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Monday, 20 November 2023 12:32

Gupta allies linked to R37.7 million Estina dairy fraud appear in court.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

Gupta associates Kamal Vasram and Saliesh Indurjeeth, who are out on bail, are back to the Pretoria Regional Court on Monday.

The duo face charges of fraud, contravention of Section 54(1)(A) of the International Trade Administration Act, and contravention of regulation 22 of the Exchange Control Act charges arising from a joint investigation by SARS and the National Prosecuting Authority's (NPA) Investigating Directorate.

This is in connection with the infamous Estina diary farm project. The trial kicked off in March this year.

The charges arise from a joint investigation by SARS and the Investigating Directorate (ID) into the failed Free State project, and the duo have pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

The case before the court centers on a pasteurisation plant that was imported into the country from India. While the customs declaration put the value of the plant at more than R37.7 million, investigations suggest this was "excessively high".

They also reveal the plant was invoiced by a company called Gateway Limited which is based in the United Arab Emirates, believed to be controlled by the Guptas.

In March, the court heard evidence from the state's first witness, Piet Swart, a Sars investigator with more than 40 years of experience.

Swart testified how the custom clearance document (SAD 500 and invoice), which included a customs declaration form, was submitted via Sars' electronic data information (EDI) system by UTI as the clearing agent on behalf of Estina, to support a fraudulent VAT refund claim.

Meanwhile, South Africa's resubmission of a request for the extradition of Atul and Rajesh Gupta is being held up because the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has not provided the justice department with requested information.

Justice ministry spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri said minister Ronald Lamola met with his counterpart Abdullah Sultan Awad Al Nuaim and other UAE prosecuting authorities in June to discuss the extradition of Atul and Rajesh.