South African Court Releases Gupta Family’s Frozen Assets

The assets released include the Bombardier jet the Canadian bank had a South African court ground earlier this year


A South Africa court on May 28 ruled that the asset seizure order against the controversial Gupta family be lifted as there was “no reasonable grounds” to believe that the brothers would be convicted. The Bloemfontein High Court ruling, given by judge Judge Philip Jacobus Loubser who presided over the matter, means that there is no need to freeze the assets worth $20 million, PTI reported.

These assets were seized in April during the investigation in relation to the Estina dairy farm scandal in which the Gupta brothers — Ajay, Atul and Rajesh — and their associates were accused of siphoning off state funds. The seizure was carried out after the asset forfeiture unit obtained a provisional restraint order. The family approached the court in a bid to overturn the order.

The judicial inquiry into the state capture charges against the Indian-origin family will start in August. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has indicated that it could take up to two years to conclude the inveatigation.

The same court had overturned the freezing of 10 million rand ($791,000) in Atul Gupta’s personal bank account in March this year. It had also reduced the preservation order of 220 million rand in relation to the Estina dairy farm project to 40 million rand, and let Varun Gupta, the family’s nephew and an accused in the scandal, leave the country on a Himalayan pilgrimage for two weeks.

As per the May 28 ruling, assets that are now released include the Guptas’ Bombardier jet; dozens of luxury vehicles, including several Mercedes-Benzes and Land Rovers, a Porsche Cayenne, and a Lamborghini Gallardo; the bank accounts of Gupta-linked companies; and the family houses, businesses, and farms across the country. The houses include the Gupta homes in Saxonwold that were raided in February, as well as houses in Roggebaai and Constantia in Cape Town and Umhlanga in Durban.

The Bombardier Global 6000 jet was kept at the Lanseria airport in Johannesburg since April after the Canadian bank that had financed the jet went to court to have it grounded.

The Guptas, who moved to South Africa in 1993, have a range of business interests in the country, such as computing, mining, air travel, energy, technology and media. The brothers are accused of “state capture” of South Africa by allegedly using their friendship with former South African President Jacob Zuma to advance their own business interests in the country.

Zuma resigned from his post on Feb. 14 after being pressured by the ruling party following a raid at the Gupta family’s home by South Africa’s elite police unit.

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