A South African court on Monday ruled that assets seized in a multi-million-dollar fraud and money-laundering investigation into allies of ex-president Jacob Zuma should be returned.
The Gupta business family are at the centre of fraud allegations against Zuma, who was ousted from office in February, after being accused of receiving favourable government deals from him.
Property, including several houses, offices, farms, luxury cars and a private jet, were seized during the case against the Gupta family and other South African suspects.
Judge Philip Loubser reversed the order.
He ruled there were no “reasonable” grounds to hold onto the assets ahead of a hearing expected in August. “The provisional restraint order… is discharged,” Loubser ruled.
The National Prosecution Authority said it was surprised by the decision. “It’s a serious setback in the fight against organised crimes and corruption,” prosecution spokesman Luvuyo Mfaku told AFP.
Thirteen people are facing charges linked to allegations that $20 million (17.2 million euros) of public money meant for dozens of poor dairy farmers was siphoned off by the Guptas.
Zuma was forced to step down three months ago as criticism grew from within the ruling ANC party over multiple corruption scandals.