Iqbal Sharma deemed a flight risk and denied bail – NPA

Gupta associate had failed to disclose that he transferred R264,4m to company based in UAE

Iqbal Sharma deemed a flight risk and denied bail

8 June 2021

Former Transnet Board member and Gupta family associate, lqbal Sharma, has been denied bail.

The NPA Investigating Directorate (ID) told the court that Sharma was a flight risk and failed to disclose that he had transferred R264,4 million to Issar Global based in the United Arab Emirates between 22 August 2016 and 08 December 2016.

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.

Sharma and three others were arrested on 03 June in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and the Free State. The three were all granted R10 000 bail. They are former Free State, Agriculture, and Rural Development (FSDoARD) head, Peter Thabethe; former head of FSDoA, Limakatso Moorosi; and former FSDoA Chief Financial Officer, Seipati Dhlamini.

Sharma is amongst 16 other accused who face charges relating to defrauding the Free State Department of Agriculture (FSDoA).

The fraud is in connection with a R25m feasibility study in 2011 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 R1.5m. Furthermore, it subcontracted the work already completed by Deloitte to Gateway Limited and paid them over R19m. From there, the funds were diverted to Islandsite Investments 180 (Pty) Ltd (Islandsite), a company owned and controlled by the Gupta family. The accused face charges of fraud and money laundering. The former government officials are also charged with contravention of the Public Finance Management Act.

The fifth suspect in the matter, lqbal Sharma's brother-in-law and a representative of Nulane Investments, Dinesh Patel, will formally appear on 15 June 2021, owing to health reasons. They are charged together with three companies, Nulane Investment 204 (Pty) Ltd (owned and controlled by Sharma), Wone Management (PTY) LTD, Pragat Investment (Pty) LTD and Islandsite Investments Pty Ltd.

The balance of the accused listed in the charge sheet are not currently in South Africa.

All the accused are expected back in the Bloemfontein Magistrates' Court on 5 July 2021. The ID has concluded Investigations, is ready to hand over the docket to the defence and start with the trial as soon as possible.

Issued by Sindisiwe Seboka, Investigating Directorate Spokesperson, 8 June 2021