Accused in Vrede Dairy Farm project case granted bail

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Estina sole Director Kamal Vasram has been granted bail of R100 000 in the Bloemfontein Regional Court. He is one of the eight people accused of looting more than R220 million of the Vrede Dairy Farm project.

Seven co-accused were released on bail by the Bloemfontein Regional Court last Thursday. They face charges of fraud, corruption, money laundering, contravening a section of Public Financial Management Act as well as the Companies Act.

Vasram appeared in a heavily-guarded courtroom with about 10 police officers and two private security personnel.

The state opposed bail on the grounds that he has not been honest about his financial interests and that his residential address could not be confirmed last week during the bail applications of the other accused.

The bail was eventually granted.

Vasram was ordered to hand in his passport and not travel beyond the borders of Gauteng. He has also been ordered to report at the Midrand Police Station twice a week.

“The state had some concerns that he is renting where he is staying at the current moment and the other issue is that the state was of the view that he is not playing open cards because he is claiming that he is earning R15 000 a month and he is paying more than R14000 for rent that was concerning us. That is why we are concerned as the state,” says Free State NPA spokesperson Phaladi Shuping.

In another twist to the Vrede saga, NPA National spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku has confirmed that Atul Gupta has filed an urgent High Court application to challenge the NPA’s forfeiture unit from freezing R10 million in his bank account. The R10 million is a portion of the R220 million meant to benefit the poor in the Vrede Dairy farm project. It was transferred to Gupta’s account.

Mfaku says they will oppose the matter.

“We confirm that the NPA sometime last week, received the papers from the lawyers representing Mr Atul Gupta. We will be filing our papers on 21 (sic) and the motion will be heard on 1 March in the Bloemfontein High Court.”

The case in the regional court has been postponed to August 17.

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