3 former FS officials charged with fraud, corruption linked to Vrede dairy farm

The NPA Investigative Directorate said that the three officials allegedly awarded the Vrede dairy farm feasibility study contract to Gupta-linked associate Iqbal Sharma’s company, Nulani, for nearly R25 million.

FILE: A YouTube screengrab shows Peter Thabethe, the former head of the Free State Agriculture Department, at the state capture inquiry on 4 October 2019.

JOHANNESBURG - Three former Free State Agriculture Department officials who awarded a R25 million feasibility study to a Gupta-linked company have been charged with fraud, corruption and money laundering at the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court

Peter Thabethe, Limakatso Moorosi and Seipati Dlamini awarded the contract to Iqbal Sharma allegedly irregularly - he too has been charged.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said that it was also pursuing the extradition of Atul Gupta and his wife, who were part of a total 17 people to be charged.

The NPA Investigative Directorate said that the three officials allegedly awarded the Vrede dairy farm feasibility study contract to Sharma’s company, Nulani, for nearly R25 million.

The NPA’s Sindisiwe Seboka: "It was supposed to so the feasibility study. It was paid the R24 million. It then outsourced the same feasibility study to a South Africa company Deloitte for R1.5 million, so you can do the math to see how much they benefitted and pocketed."

Two accused will apply for bail on Thursday afternoon while the other two will make their bail bid on Monday.

Seboka said that there were 17 accused persons and companies and they included Rajesh and Atul Gupta and his wife, who will be extradited.

"The extradition talks have started for the UAE and India," Seboka said.

The NPA said that it could not say if former MEC and minister, Mosebenzi Zwane, would also be charged but it was confident that the case would succeed.

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