The case of the two allies of the Gupta brothers who are involved in the controversial Estina dairy project of income tax fraud of R37 million has been postponed until November.
Kamal Vasram and Saliesh Indurjeeth, former directors of the controversial dairy project in the Free State, appeared in the regional court in Pretoria this week.
“The court will hear the testimony of the fifth state witness when the case resumes,” says Sindisiwe Seboka, spokesperson for the National Prosecuting Authority’s investigation directorate.
Vasram and Indurjeeth pleaded not guilty to all charges in March this year.
They stand trial on charges of breaching the Public Financial Management Act, fraud, corruption and money laundering arising from the “alleged looting of the Free State Department of Agriculture”.
The state’s first witness was Piet Swart, an investigator attached to the South African Revenue Service (SARS). He testified about the clearance documents related to nine shipping containers carrying various dairy equipment.
The investigation established that Estina submitted clearance documents in support of a VAT refund claim. The clearance documents were then put under the proverbial magnifying glass, after which it was determined that the declared value of more than R37.7 million for a so-called “new” pasteurization plant was excessively high.
The pasteurization plant allegedly imported from India was billed to Estina by Gateway Limited in the United Arab Emirates.
“Evidence that is already in the public domain indicates that Gateway was used and controlled by the Guptas as a channel to launder money and withdraw money from South Africa,” said Seboka.
Vasram and Indurjeeth are part of four other accused in the case.
Mosebenzi Zwane, former minister of mineral resources, Peter Thabethe, former head of the Free State Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Seipati Dlamini, then chief financial officer of the department, and Takisi Janki Masiteng, former general manager of district services in the department, are also accused in the matter.
Several government officials in the Free State have been suspected for years of having used the Estina dairy product as a cash cow to drain the department’s money.
According to Seboka, the trial will continue on Tuesday. The trial is expected to last until Thursday.
Read all RNews’s reports on the controversial Estina dairy project here.