Trial date set for PIO associates of S.Africa’s Gupta brothers

Trial date set for PIO associates of S.Africa's Gupta brothers

JOHANNESBURG: The R37.7 million (Rs 17.2 crore) fraud case against two Indian-origin associates of the Gupta brothers has been postponed in the Pretoria Regional Court. Kamal Vasram and Saliesh Indurjeeth will return to court on November 30 this year for pretrial hearings and in March next year for trial.

Out on a bail of R10,000 each, the two were arrested earlier this year after they were “directly linked” to the Estina dairy farm project.  They have been charged with fraud and the contravention of regulations on international trade administration and exchange control. The Estina dairy farm project was reportedly supposed to empower black farmers. But bank statements showed that it was being used to swindle cash, with high-profile government officials. According to media reports, the money was paid into the company’s Bank of Baroda account in India.

Vasram, who was the Director of the Estina project, earlier sold computers for the Gupta brothers. Indurjeeth, according to his LinkedIn profile, was an accounts assistant.

The Gupta brothers – Atul Kumar Gupta and Rajesh Gupta, who are facing corruption charges in South Africa, had fled to the UAE along with their brother Ajay Gupta, from where the two were arrested. Now South African authorities have placed a request for their extradition.

They allegedly used their ties with former president Jacob Zuma for their own benefit. A judicial inquiry had been initiated into the matter in 2018. Soon after this, the Gupta brothers fled from South Africa along with their third brother Ajay Gupta to the UAE. Originally from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur, the brothers had been running a computer business in South Africa since 1997. The firm had a total turnover of around Rs 97 million.

Initially, their firm’s name was Correct Marketing, which was later changed to Sahara Computer and Sahara System Private Limited. In 2016, they became the seventh wealthiest persons in South Africa and their net worth had touched Rs 10.7 billion.

Also Read: S African President Cyril Ramaphosa makes affidavit on meetings with Gupta brothers public