Gupta bid to get seized property back postponed

The Gupta's legal bid to try and overturn an order freezing their assets has been postponed. They're challenging the Asset Forfeiture Unit at the Free State High Court. Video: eNCA

JOHANNESBURG - The National Prosecuting Authority case against Gupta-linked parties has been postponed so that the prosecution can attain the services of top advocate Wim Trengove.

Gupta business associates and companies were set to argue for control of assets worth millions on Thursday.

It was the second time they were in court to try to regain assets seized during raids earlier this year, including a helicopter, two jets, several luxury vehicles and more than 40 properties.

The seven applicants include Oakbay Investments, its acting CEO, Ronica Ragavan, and the Guptas' nephew Varun Gupta.

READ: Gupta plane grounded in corruption probe

The assets were seized by the National Director of Public Prosecutions and the National Prosecuting Authority in connection with the Estina dairy project.

In that case, eight people, who appeared in court in February, have been charged with fraud, corruption and theft.

The NPA alleges that funds intended for the dairy farm project were laundered and placed into Bank of Baroda accounts linked to the Guptas.

The National Director of Public Prosecutions, Shaun Abrahams, and the NPA argued for a postponement of the Gupta case on Thursday so they could gain the services of Trengove next week.

But counsel for two Gupta-linked companies, Westdawn and Annex Distribution, rejected that argument.

Their lawyer, Rafik Bhana, said they referred in their affidavit opposing postponement to the 250 or so senior counsel "between Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Durban. 250 senior counsel, they can't find one."

The lawyer for Oakbay, Ravagan and three others lambasted the NPA, saying it was hypocritical for the authority to launch into his clients, grabbing their valuables, and then argue for time.

"They lit the fuse and then they left the mine ... They were the architects of the application ... they cannot say they are busy," said Mike Hellens.

He argued the NPA was wasting public funds.

Judge Philip Loubser dismissed the contention that the NPA's preference for Trengove was a delaying tactic.

But he added that the NDPP and NPA could have done more to prevent a postponement.

He postponed the matter to 17 May.



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