- Bank statements may have revealed how the Free State government had paid more than R330 million in less than two years to the Estina dairy farm
- Should these statements be legitimate, they reveal how the bare minimum was spent on the farm, with the majority of funds being almost immediately sent overseas
- This could mean that the R250 million project aimed at black empowerment had not made a single payment to a black beneficiary
Bank statements have, allegedly, revealed how the Free State government paid R334 202 652 between July 2014 and April 2016 to Estina, an Indian company.
According to News24, Gupta involvement in the Vrede dairy scandal had been far greater than previously thought.
The statements detail how the Free State Department of Agriculture paid the funds over to Estina in amounts up to R50 million.
The statements are allegedly for Estina's Standard Bank account, held at the Bedford Gardens branch.
Estina had been tasked to run the Vrede dairy farm on the departments behalf, feeding the money back into the scheme, but the statements show this never came to pass.
Instead, if the statements are to be believed, the money was paid into the company's Indian account almost immediately.
'Plundering of government assets'
Netwerk24's sources describe the incident as "a plundering of government assets by the Guptas and politicians", adding that the statements served as proof it was nothing short of state capture.
Amounts of up to R4 million were paid to Kamal Vasram, chief executive of Estina, in stark contrast to this, relatively tiny amounts were spent on the farm and its animals.
Netwerk24 claims to have seen veterinary reports that showed cows and calves died regularly on the farm.
While R5 million at a time was paid to the Bank of Baroda in a day, only R14 437.26, R8 744.35 and R4 583.25 had been spent on animal feed.
Theresa Rothman, who had worked for the company, only received a salary of R4 000 every month.
Despite having received a few hundred million rand in taxpayer's money, Estina was liquidated in 2015.
Cash cow for politicians
Since the liquidation, the Free State government continued paying around R1 million a month towards the upkeep of the farm.
The bank statements could confirm what experts have believed since the beginning: The dairy farm was just a front to send money to India.
Sources close to the scheme say that the Guptas got the money to pay Indian officials as well as officials in Dubai.
It is further alleged that South African politicians would then receive credit cards with up to R20 million to spend locally, on the condition that the money could not be traced back through India to the people in South Africa.
The sources also claim that the funds were paid via service level agreements, which is illegal. These payments were approved at the highest level.
No justice in sight
Kamal is one of the 'Estina Eight' who appeared in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein last year.
The charges have since been dropped in December 2018, with Phaladi Shuping, NPA spokesman, saying that the NPA had done this after not receiving the information it needed from authorities in India and the UAE. This had prevented the investigation from being completed.
The accused had faced charges of fraud, theft, conspiracy to commit fraud and theft and contravening the Public Finance Management Act, the Companies Act and sections of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
The aim of the R250 million dairy project had been to empower black farmers, sadly the bank statements reveal that not a single payment had been made to black beneficiaries.
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