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Gupta-company directors seek postponement in asset-restraint case

12 May 2022 - 19:08
Ajay Gupta and his younger brother Atul. The directors of a company they own, which is under business rescue, want to be involved in legal proceedings before the high court in Bloemfontein. File photo.
Ajay Gupta and his younger brother Atul. The directors of a company they own, which is under business rescue, want to be involved in legal proceedings before the high court in Bloemfontein. File photo.
Image: MARTIN RHODES

The bid by the Investigating Directorate (ID) to restrain the assets belonging to alleged Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma and a company belonging to the Guptas was delayed on Thursday after the directors of Islandsite Investments 180 sought a postponement of the matter.

Islandsite Investments, which belongs to Atul and Rajesh Gupta and their wives Chetali and Arti Gupta, sought a postponement as the company seeks to appeal against a decision made in August last year that its directors do not have standing to represent the company in opposing the restraint application by the ID.

Islandsite was placed under voluntary business rescue in 2018 and two business rescue practitioners represent its interests.

When the National Prosecuting Authority’s ID brought a successful application to provisionally restrain the assets of Sharma, his company Nulane Investment and Islandsite in June last year, the directors of Islandsite — represented by Ronica Ragavan — sought to oppose the confirmation of the restraint order against Islandsite.

In August last year, Free State judge president Cagney Musi ruled against Ragavan and her attorneys and said Islandsite directors had no standing to oppose the proceedings without the approval of the business rescue practitioners.

The business rescue practitioners of Islandsite indicated last year they would oppose the confirmation of the restraint order.

The ID said the assets which it seeks to confirm restrained include all property of Islandsite, Sharma and his wife Tarina Patel-Sharma, and any property held by Sharma’s companies, including two registered in the UAE.

Sharma’s assets that form part of the curator’s inventory include his Sandton home valued at more than R12m.

Properties owned by Islandsite that form part of the inventory include a house worth R21m in Constantia, Cape Town,  and a R12m house in Saxonwold, Johannesburg.

After Musi's decision, Ragavan applied for leave to appeal the order that the directors and/or shareholders of Islandsite have no standing to oppose the restraint proceedings without the approval of the business rescue practitioners.

The application for leave to appeal, which was heard by acting judge president Mbhele on February 25, was dismissed on April 28.

When the restraint application was due to be heard on Thursday afternoon, the advocate for the directors of Islandsite sought a postponement as the directors sought to appeal the decision by Mbhele further.

The high court will announce its decision on the matter on Friday morning.

Islandsite was in September last year added as an accused in the case where Sharma and others are accused of procurement fraud involving R25m, paid by the Free State department of agriculture and rural development to Nulane Investment.

The ID alleges that the funds that were paid to Nulane were diverted to Islandsite.

The R24.9m was purportedly paid to Nulane to conduct a feasibility study for the Free State’s flagship Mohoma Mobung project, on the basis that Nulane had unique skills to perform the work.

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