Government is likely to appeal a decision by the High Court in Bloemfontein on Monday that saw R250-million in Gupta assets unfrozen and returned to them, TimesSelect reported. Judge Phillip Loubser ruled that the state did not have sufficient evidence to warrant keeping the Gupta's assets frozen, which it had done as part of its criminal probe into the Estina dairy farm matter.
The state had alleged that the Guptas and their associates' assets were the proceeds of crime, stemming from the Estina project, where black emerging farmers were supposed to receive cattle and support from the government. Instead, the money allegedly wound its way back to Gupta accounts abroad, via the Bank of Baroda, with the farmers not seeing a cent of the money.
Loubser was scathing in his judgment of the NPA's case. He reportedly said the state's case showed "many shortcomings at this point".
According to the Daily Maverick, he explained, "There must be reasonable grounds for believing that the defendant may be convicted, that the court may find that the defendant benefited from the unlawful activities, and that the court may therefore make the exercise of a confiscation order."
On Tuesday, the NPA called the ruling a "serious blow to the fight against organised crime", according to TimesLive. The judgment has also led to questions about the state of the NPA and its ability to prosecute financial crimes.
Now, Times Select quoted sources saying the NPA will probably appeal Loubser's ruling. Sources reportedly said prosecutors intend relying on "glaring errors of law" in Loubser's judgment.
The NPA's Luvuyo Mfaku told Times Select that prosecutors will meet in Cape Town in the coming days to decide on the way forward.
In March, the Gupta's secured their first victory against the state when the high court in Bloemfontein overturned a separate freezing order, this time, of R10 million in Atul Gupta's personal bank account.
According to Business Day, in that case, the court also reduced the preservation order of R220 million in assets related to the Estina dairy farm matter to R40 million. This prompted lawyers representing six of the accused in that case to write to the NPA requesting that the matter be dropped due to lack of evidence.