NPA dropped the ball, says criminal law expert

NPA dropped the ball, says criminal law expert

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has come under fire for losing yet another court battle against the controversial Gupta family.

Gupta brothers
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"Someone dropped the ball heavily," says leading criminal law expert Marius du Toit after the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) lost another court battle against the Gupta family.

"The difficulty lies in the fact that their credibility has taken a knock."

In at least three separate cases - the courts could not find reasonable grounds that those implicated will be convicted of a crime, as alleged by the NPA.

Judge Philip Jacobus Loubser slammed the National Director of Public Prosecution (NDPP), Shaun Abrahams, for concluding that the Gupta-linked companies and individuals unlawfully received monies from the Vrede Diary Farm project.

In his judgment, which unfroze R250 million in assets, Loubser described the state's case as "inaccurate, misleading and unreliable".

He argued that "reasonable grounds are lacking" that those suspected to have pocketed millions "may one day be convicted of the offences alleged".

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In March, Judge Fouche Jordaan set aside a preservation order freezing R10 million in Atul Gupta's personal bank account.

"The above mistakes and omissions casts' serious doubt in terms of reliability of his [AFU] findings," said Jordaan.

In May, the court lifted the nephew Varun Gupta's bail conditions to travel to India, saying no strong case exists against him.

Du Toit says the AFU needs to go back to the drawing board and analyse what went wrong.

"The NDPP should conduct a thorough inquiry as to who deposed the affidavits, who were in charge of these applications and why the ball was dropped in each of those matters. And if it means that there was a loophole exploited by the respondents; then they must make sure that it is not exploded in future again."

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