Atul Gupta. Picture: JAMES OATWAY
Atul Gupta. Picture: JAMES OATWAY

A restraint order to freeze assets and homes belonging to the Gupta family and their associate Iqbal Sharma, and his wife, has been granted by the high court in the Free State.

“The freezing order, granted in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act (Poca), will be served on Iqbal Sharma at the Bloemfontein Bainsvlei SAPS holding cells, while Islandsite [which belongs to Atul and Rajesh Gupta and their wives, Chetali and Arti Gupta] will be served at its local business address,” said Investigating Directorate (ID) spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka.

The order, according to Seboka, applies to assets held in SA which include all property belonging to Islandsite, Sharma and his wife Tarina Patel-Sharma, and any property held by Sharma’s companies, including two registered in the UAE.

“Leave is granted to institute asset forfeiture proceedings against Islandsite and the property of Islandsite,” reads the order.

Atul Gupta at the family compound in Saxonwold. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND
Atul Gupta at the family compound in Saxonwold. Picture: KEVIN SUTHERLAND

The order prohibited the respondents from dealing with the properties in any manner.

“Sharma’s assets that form part of the curator’s inventory include his Sandton home valued at more than R12m. The property was featured on lifestyle television programme, Top Billing, and is owned through a UAE-registered company, Issar Global,” said the ID.

“Other assets include movable property valued at R500,000 and a R1.3m sectional title home in Sandton.

“Properties owned by Gupta family company Islandsite that form part of the inventory include a house worth R21m in Constantia, near Cape Town, and a R12m house in Saxonwold.”

The high court appointed a curator to take control of and preserve the assets pending the outcome of criminal charges for fraud and money laundering offences instituted against Sharma, Nulane, Islandsite, the Guptas and others in the Bloemfontein magistrate’s court. 

“Should the accused be convicted, the NDPP will apply for a confiscation order against Sharma and Islandsite to recoup the value of benefits derived from the offences and related criminal activities.

“Those affected face criminal charges related to a contract concluded between Nulane and the Free State department of agriculture in 2011 for which Nulane was paid R24.9m for a feasibility study that it subcontracted to Deloitte for R1.5m.

The study, Seboka said, related to potential farming projects in the Free State to be funded under Mohoma Mobung, a provincial initiative for rural upliftment and job creation.

“Nulane recommended an Indian company, Paras Dairy, for the Vrede dairy project now linked to the Estina fraud investigation,” she said.

“The fraudulent proceeds of R24.9m paid to Nulane by the department were transferred between Nulane and several companies, including Gupta entities Islandsite and Pragat Investments (Pty) Ltd, to launder the funds ultimately directed to the Gupta family. Other funds that flowed between the companies as part of the money laundering transactions are presumed proceeds of unlawful activities in terms of Poca.”

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