Interpol issues red notices against Guptas & others in R25m FS fraud case

The case relates to the procurement fraud involving R24.9 million paid between November 2011 and April 2012by the Free State Department of Agriculture.

FILE: Atul Gupta at a 'New Age' Business Briefing in Port Elizabeth. Picture: GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - Interpol has on Monday issued red notices against Atul and Rajesh Gupta and others linked to the R25 million Free State fraud case.

Former Transnet board member and Gupta family associate Iqbal Sharma and others face charges of money laundering and defrauding the Free State Department of Agriculture.

The case relates to the procurement fraud involving R24.9 million paid between November 2011 and April 2012 by the Free State agriculture department to Nulane Investment 204 (PTY) LTD, a company owned and controlled by Sharma. From there, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd (Islandsite), a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family.

Their case has now been transferred to the High Court in Bloemfontein for trail which is set to begin in September.

"The matter was postponed in the absence of the accused, as agreed between the NPA’s Investigating Directorate and the defense, in the wake of the Covid-19 Level 4 lockdown regulations. Warrants against the accused out on bail will be issued yet stayed until the next appearance. Iqbal Sharma on the other hand will continue to be incarcerated as he was not granted bail last month," the NPA said in a statement.

Advocate Hermione Cronje said efforts to bring the Guptas back had intensified: ‘’ Interpol has issued red notices against: 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 (Pty) Ltd; Ramesh Bhat and Jagdish Parekh, the directors of Pragat Investments (Pty) Ltd.’’

A red notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.

It contains two main types of information: information to identify the wanted person, such as their name, date of birth, nationality, hair and eye colour, photographs and fingerprints if available; and information related to the crime they are wanted for.

Red notices are published by Interpol at the request of a member country, in this case that would be South Africa.

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