Vrede Dairy Farm: Guptas and the ANC stole economic opportunity from black South Africans
24 August 2017
Fellow South Africans,
We are gathered here outside the Hawks Head Office to seek justice for those South Africans – our brothers and sisters - who were robbed of economic opportunity by the ANC and the Guptas.
Today I have in my hand a legal indictment containing over 200 pages of prima facie evidence showing that Minister Zwane and members of the Gupta family, through an intricate web of companies and actors, stole almost R200 million of public funds which ended up paying for a Gupta family wedding at Sun City in 2013.
In a small town named Vrede in the eastern Free State, not further than 250kms from here, a crime was committed and money and opportunity was stolen from the people of Vrede in order to fill the pockets of a small clique of powerful individuals who have captured the government, the President, and the ANC.
The victims of this theft are 80 local community members, who were the intended beneficiaries, who would have become part owners of this project, and who would have had an economic stake in the agricultural sector of our country.
Instead of empowering those who are left out of the economy, black South Africans were used as a front for a calculated scheme of grand corruption and money laundering to benefit the Guptas and their friends in the ANC. Between the Guptas and the ANC government, economic opportunity was stolen from black South Africans.
This is a crime of the most reprehensible nature. And today we are here to ensure those who stole face the full might of the law.
It began back in 2013 when the Free State Provincial Government – under then Agriculture MEC, Mosebeni Zwane – launched what is now referred to as the Vrede Dairy Farm project. This community based project, which targeted over 80 intended local beneficiaries, was a joint private-public project between the Free State Agriculture Department and a successful bidder from the private sector.
The aim was to empower local residents and boost provincial agriculture through the establishment of this large scale dairy, with at least 80 community members having a direct stake in the project. On paper, it was full of promise. However, when Gupta-controlled company, Estina, was handed the tender for this project, it became clear this was a preconceived project designed to fill the pockets of the Guptas.
The project was fraught with irregularities and allegations of corruption from day one. What then transpired was a calculated money laundering scheme through an intricate web of transactions - which saw almost R200 million of public funds diverted from this project and straight into the pockets of the Guptas.
Sadly, the Vrede Dairy Farm project could act as a textbook case study of money laundering, collusion and corruption. Despite this, the Gupta-controlled Estina still sits with almost R200 million of public money while the intended beneficiaries are left penniless.
We are here today to make one thing clear: we will not allow this theft of economic opportunity to fall by the wayside.
Because we know who the bad guys are.
And you know who the bad guys are.
Even the police and the Hawks know who the bad guys are.
They are the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane; they are Atul, Ajay, and Rajesh Gupta; they are the numerous Gupta stooges who work for Gupta-controlled companies such as Oakbay, Linkway and Estina.
The question thus beckons – why has this cut and dry matter not been finalised by the Hawks and referred for prosecution by the NPA?
This indictment delivered today acts as concrete evidence which outlines in detail how this money was stolen from the intended beneficiaries, and provides sufficient evidence to support the criminal charges laid against several members of the Gupta family, their associates, and Minister Zwane last month by DA Shadow Minister of Finance, David Maynier MP. These charges include money laundering, racketeering, assisting another to benefit from the proceeds of unlawful activities, and acquiring, possessing or using the proceeds of unlawful activities in terms of the Prevention of Organized Crime Act 121 of 1998.
We believe that the evidence contained in this indictment, emanating from the tranche of “Gupta email leaks”, is both clear and comprehensive, and sufficient to conclude the investigation into this matter and hand it over to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) for prosecution. There is no reason for either the Hawks or the NPA to drag its feet on this matter.
Included in this indictment are documents which reveal the following:
- Then MEC for Agriculture in the Free State, Mosebenzi Zwane, now Minister of Mineral Resources, was instrumental in persuading the Provincial Government to adopt the dairy project;
- The project was not put out to public tender;
- Linkway Trading, a Gupta-controlled company, entered into a consulting contract with Estina, also a Gupta-controlled company to the value of R138 000;
- Financial records show that over a six-week period between August and September 2013, Estina transferred $8 348 700.00 (R84 million at the then prevailing exchange rate) to the Dubai bank account of Gateway LLC, a Gupta controlled UAE shelf company;
- This transfer represented the entire amount transferred from the Free State provincial government to Estina for purposes of the Dairy project, to the Gupta controlled account at Standard Chartered Bank in Dubai;
- The Standard Chartered account was clearly used to launder the money in question, since at least three quarters of the funds in question were almost immediately transferred back to two Gupta-controlled South African companies Linkway Trading and Oakbay Investments;
- Three months after the wedding, on 31 July 2013 Linkway Trading, a South African-based Gupta-controlled company, presented Accurate, a Gupta-controlled shelf company in the UAE, with a 4 page, itemized invoice for expenses for the “V and A function at Sun City”.
- A South African National Treasury probe followed the exposure of the malpractices at the dairy farm in the media and Estina was removed from the project, but by then the Provincial Government had paid Estina the amount of R210 million
We believe that this is a cut and dry example of money laundering and corruption. The charges have been laid, the evidence is clear and overwhelming, and now all that’s left to do is move forward with prosecution. It is this unacceptable that the perpetrators of this crime have yet to be charged, and as such, this indictment serves to speed up the wheels of justice to ensure that those who stole the people’s money are prosecuted, and if found guilty by a court of law – are put behind bars.
The DA is unrelenting in our effort to seek true justice for this group of South Africans who are the real victims of the ANC’s State Capture project
Issued by Mmusi Maimane, Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 24 August 2017