NPA asks Interpol for help to arrest two Gupta brothers and their wives

The NPA has asked Interpol to assist in arresting Rajesh Gupta and Atul Gupta, as well as their wives so they can be charged for fraud and money laundering.

Atul Gupta. Picture: Atul Gupta Kumar/Facebook.

JOHANNESBURG - The National Prosecutions Authority (NPA) on Thursday said it applied to the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) to assist with the execution of arrest warrants for two Gupta brothers and their wives.

It’s also seeking the arrest of other suspects outside the country involved in the feasibility study of the Vrede dairy farm, in the Free State. Millions of rands were diverted from the farm project, which was intended to uplift poor people in the province.

Iqbal Sharma, who is a business partner to Gupta associate Salim Essa, and former Free State officials Peter Thabethe, Limakatso Morasi and Seipati Dlamini were formally charged with fraud and money laundering in Bloemfontein on Thursday. The former government officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

Sharma’s Nulane Investments was irregularly awarded a R25 million contract to do the Vrede dairy farm feasibility study. But the work was done by Deloitte for R1.5 million. From there, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd (Islandsite), a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family, according to the NPA.

NPA Investigative Directorate spokesperson Sindisiwe Seboka said the NPA wanted those people and others to come back to South Africa and to be charged with fraud and money laundering.

"The NPA is applying to Interpol to assist with the execution of an arrest warrant in respect of Atul Gupta and his wife, Chetali; Rajesh Gupta and his wife, Arti; Ankit Jain, former Nulane Investment Bank of Baroda account signatory; Ravindra Nath, director of Wone Management; Ramesh Bhat and Jagdish Parekh, the directors of Pragat Investments," she said.

The NPA said the modus operandi used in this case appeared to have been replicated in other government departments and projects, so it was critical that the evidence gathered in this matter was presented to court and a verdict obtained expeditiously.

"It is for this reason that prosecutors have decided to proceed separately against the accused currently in the country and those abroad, as the process of arrest and extradition may unduly delay the trial," the NPA's Investigating Directorate head Hermione Cronje said.

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