Court denies Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma bail

Magistrate Estelle de Lange handed down judgment on Tuesday afternoon.

Picture: SAPS.

JOHANNESBURG - Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma has been denied bail by the Bloemfontein Magistrates Court.

Magistrate Estelle de Lange handed down judgment on Tuesday afternoon.

“I find it the applicant did not satisfy me that it is in the interest of justice to be released on bail. I find that the State provided sufficient evidence that it is not in the interest of justice to release him on bail. Bail is refused.”

Earlier, the State argued that Sharma withheld facts, including the R265 million held in his UAE company account.

Sharma was the last of four suspects to apply for bail after spending the weekend behind bars alongside former Free State head of agriculture department Peter Thabethe.

Thabethe was granted R10,000 bail on Monday while two of his former colleagues were released on bail last week.

The National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate (ID) said Sharma was a flight risk.

“The ID further told the court that his South African assets account for 10% of his total assets. He has made more than 100 flights to and from the airports in the UAE since 2010. Sharma is a citizen of the world and has connections to several foreign countries. He additionally speaks three different international languages: French, Urdu, and Hindi.”

The fraud is in connection with a R25 million feasibility study in 2011 for the Vrede dairy farm that was irregularly granted to Nulane Investment 204 (PTY) LTD, a company owned and controlled by Sharma. The company had to provide a report to the department within seven months.

Nulane, however, subcontracted the work to Deloitte Consulting Pty Ltd for R1.5 million. Furthermore, it subcontracted the work already completed by Deloitte to Gateway Limited and paid them over R19 million.

From there, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd (Islandsite), a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.

Download the Eyewitness News app to your iOS or Android device.