South Africa’s attempt to extradite the wealthy Guptas from the Emirates fails

image source, South African government

photo caption,

Atul Gupta (left), one of the brothers accused of having a corrupt relationship with former President Zuma (right)

South Africa’s attempt to deport two brothers of the wealthy Gupta family from the United Arab Emirates has failed.

Atul and Rajesh Gupta are accused in South Africa of profiting from their close links to former President Jacob Zuma and of exercising unfair influence.

The Justice Department said it learned with “shock and dismay” about the move.

The brothers, who have denied any wrongdoing, fled after a judicial committee began investigating a major corruption scandal.

The Indian-born Guptas were arrested in the United Arab Emirates last June and extradition talks with South Africa began.

But a court in the UAE rejected the extradition request on technical grounds, South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola was quoted as saying by the TimesLive news site.

The decision was made in February, but South Africa was only informed of it on Thursday.

“The reasons given for refusing our application are inexplicable and contradict assurances given by the UAE authorities that our applications meet their requirements,” said Lamola, as South Africa’s Mail & Guardian reports.

Reuters quoted the minister as saying that the UAE court ruled that for money laundering crimes allegedly committed in the UAE and South Africa, the UAE has jurisdiction to prosecute the Guptas.

Lamola said his government would appeal the decision.

The Department of Justice could not confirm this or whether the brothers, who have been granted South African citizenship, had obtained passports from the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu.

This news is a blow to South Africa’s fight to bring the Guptas to justice.

It found that the brothers, who previously enjoyed unfettered access to power that became known as “state capture,” attempted to influence political and economic decisions.

Many of the most serious allegations center on their relationship with Zuma, who was South Africa’s president from 2009 until he was forced to step down amid a storm of corruption allegations after nine years.

The Gupta family is accused of using its close ties to Zuma to win business contracts, influence high-level government appointments and embezzle state funds.

Zuma, along with the Guptas, denied the allegations.

South Africa negotiated an extradition agreement with the UAE in 2021, three years after the brothers fled the country.

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