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Litigation: Gupta firm fails to overturn restraint order

The directors or shareholders of a Gupta family company have no legal standing to oppose a restraint order without the approval of the business rescue practitioners, the Free State High Court (Bloemfontein) ruled. The NPA had questioned the authority of Ronica Ragavan to represent the Gupta-owned Islandsite Investments 180, which is in business rescue, notes News24. Ruling in the NPA's favour, the court said: ‘The directors and or shareholders of the third defendant (the company) have no standing to oppose these proceedings without the approval of the business rescue practitioners.’ Ragavan, a director of Islandsite Investments, who has worked for the Gupta family, hired her own legal team to oppose the restraint application. But Judge President Cagney Musi said Gupta lawyers, BDK Attorneys, had no authority to act on behalf of the company. Musi said the company had no right to authorize BDK to oppose proceedings on its behalf, without the authority of the business rescue practitioners.

In June, the High Court granted the provisional restraint against dealing with realisable property of suspected Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma, his company, Nulane Investments, as well as Islandsite Investments, Issar Global Limited, Issar Capital, Tarina Patel-Sharma, and the business rescue practitioners connected to the companies. The court further ordered that such property be disclosed and surrendered. The order was made in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act. The court also appointed a curator to take control and preserve the assets, pending the outcome of the criminal case of fraud and money laundering against Sharma and members of the Gupta family, in relation to the failed Estina dairy farm project. Among other things, Ragavan argued that the company was no longer in business rescue, pending the outcome of her leave to appeal application before the Constitutional Court.

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