South Africa: Authorities Oppose Atul Gupta’s Asset Forfeiture Unit Challenge

Photo: The Presidency

Happier days… Atul Gupta with President Jacob Zuma

The National Prosecuting Authority is planning to oppose an application by Atul Gupta, to have a preservation order obtained against him by Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), set aside.

NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku told News24 that the papers would be filed on Wednesday in the Free State High Court.

Court papers, dated February 8, emerged on Monday.

In them, Atul said that National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, “not only failed to make out a case for relief sought”, but also misled the court with the evidence which led to the order being granted.

Gupta is challenging the preservation order, valued at R10m, and wants to have it set aside.

News24 understands that the Hawks are still looking for Ajay Gupta, who they regard as a fugitive, along with his two brothers Atul and Rajesh, albeit for different cases.

‘Extreme haste’

In the court papers, Atul acknowledged that the affidavit was signed and sworn in Dubai. The affidavit was stamped and signed by a commissioner of oaths at the South African Consulate in Dubai.

“I wish to state, at the outset, that I am currently outside South Africa,” he said.

Recent reports claim that Atul and Ajay were seen in India attending a wedding.

In his affidavit, Atul denied that he had unduly benefited from the Estina dairy farm project, but added that he had not had an opportunity to read the papers.

“The affidavit is prepared in extreme haste as I was only able to give factual instructions on February 7,” he said.

Atul also submitted that he did not take issue with the order pertaining to the preservation of immovable property.

He restricted his challenge to the amount of R220m.

The NPA seized control of a dairy farm in the Free State, the Guptas’ bank accounts, companies co-owned by Duduzane Zuma, and other entities in the Gupta empire.

In January, the Free State High Court put the Krynaauwslust farm near Vrede in the Free State under curatorship.

News24 reported that the order revealed that the Free State’s agricultural department – under then agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane – had paid R220m to the Guptas, in what the AFU calls a “scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department”.

Gupta believes AFU financial investigator Nkosiphendule Mradla and Abrahams have not demonstrated that any portion of the R220m paid to Estina was transferred to his account.


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