PRETORIA – The Free State High Court in Bloemfontein has set aside the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU)’s R250 million restraining order obtained against several Gupta companies and their directors as well as Free State government employees.
All parties are co-accused in the Estina dairy farm case and are alleged to have taken government funds intended for poor farmers into Gupta accounts.
Judge Philip Jacobus Loubser ruled on Monday, “The provincial restraint order is discharged with cost.”
“This issue is neither here nor there. I do not propose that we take it any further,” he said.
The AFU secured the restraining order in April but they did not give the parties an opportunity to oppose it.
The high court considered the test for granting a restraining order and only needed to establish whether the available evidence against the parties could reasonably support a prosecution.
However the court found that the evidence relied on by state prosecutions boss Shaun Abrahams in his application for the order had many shortfalls and provided little evidence, which was not been explained.
The court further found that there was uncertainty as to the exact source of the funds being moved between the various bank accounts.
The court then ruled there is no reasonable grounds to believe that the parties may be convicted of the offences which they are alleged in doing and that a successful confiscation order would follow and they also ordered that all the fortified assets be returned to the accused.
Photo Credit- EWN