Guptas 'looted R880m' from Free State government through Estina dairy
State capture inquiry hears explosive evidence of 'astronomical theft'
Explosive testimony delivered on Thursday before the commission of inquiry into state capture revealed how the Guptas' Estina dairy farm project was allegedly used to launder R880m.
While the project received R283m from the Free State government the amount, “through a complex money washing system”, ballooned to nearly R1bn, according to Paul Holden.
Holden, is the director of investigations at Shadow World Investigations — a global organisation probing cases of grand corruption and corporate malfeasance.
Estina, which was established as a public-private partnership with the Free State government, is linked to the Guptas through various proxies who helped the family operate it as a company to allegedly launder investments from the provincial government.
Delivering damning financial evidence, including Estina’s bank account records, Holden testified that the Guptas, through various offshore companies, allegedly ran a complex money-laundering enterprise to steal investments from the provincial government.
“While R283m was deposited by the Free State government, through a complex money washing system, the money ballooned to R880m.”
Stopping testimony, an astounded deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, who is chairing the inquiry, said he thought the amount was far less.
“Is it really this much? This all came from the Free State government? It is quite a large amount?”
Holden responded that the money [R283m] “was washed three times [through various offshore Gupta-linked companies] in a circle to produce this amount [R880m]".
“In money-laundering investigations, this process is known as round-tripping, where funds are paid out of a specific bank account and then later paid back into the same account.
“This is to create the impression that the monies coming into the specific bank account are actually separate amounts.”
He said the only portion of the R880m which was not from the Free State government was 3.9% [R35m] of the deposits.
“The rest all came from the provincial government’s coffers.”