The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has called on the NPA to oppose the bail application of former Transnet board member and Gupta family associate, businessman Iqbal Sharma.

Sharma’s bail application resumes in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court this morning.

Preview of Sharma’s bail application:

He is amongst 15 accused who are facing charges of fraud, corruption and money laundering relating to R24.9 million paid by the Free State Department of Agriculture for a feasibility study for potential farming projects in the province.

Head of Legal Affairs at OUTA Advocate Stefanie Fick says they are of the view that Sharma will evade trial if given bail.

“Being accused of something as serious as fraud and corruption R25 million. Whether it happened in 2011 or it happened yesterday, is a serious offence. And being in jail is not being in a five-star hotel but will he stand his trial? We agree with the state in the sense that, if I’m not mistaken he’s got a British passport. So he’s got the means, he’s got the banking facilities in many to disappear. Maybe he should remain behind bars.”

Bail application postponed 

Yesterday, the state indicated that it is still verifying documents submitted by the accused. The state mentioned that it received affidavits late on Sunday and didn’t have enough time to verify all the documents.

Sharma’s legal representative, Advocate Johannes Coetzee, said that there were unforeseen circumstances that led to their late submission.

“That took us some time to complete the affidavit due to conditions at the Bainsvlei Police station. The state has been dealing with this case for some time so they are in possession of all the necessary information.”

On Monday, former Free State head of the Department of Agriculture, Peter Thabethe, who appeared briefly with Sharma, was granted bail of R10 000 in the Bloemfontein Magistrate’s Court.

His case has been postponed to 5 July.