UAE rejects S.African Gupta brothers extradition request

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South Africa had requested the extradition of brothers Atul and Rajesh Gupta, who are accused of political corruption, but a court in the United Arab Emirates rejected the request. Nevertheless, the Gulf state stated on Friday that South Africa might renew the extradition request.

The Guptas have been accused of leveraging their ties to Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018, to secure business deals, secure cabinet positions, and embezzle public monies. The Guptas and Zuma have both said they did nothing illegal.

While South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government had hoped that the Guptas would be returned to the country to face charges, the United Arab Emirates stated that the extradition request did not meet the “strict standards for legal documentation” contained in an extradition treaty ratified with South Africa in April 2021.

The UAE justice minister stated in a statement carried by state news agency WAM that the two extradition requests for fraud and corruption lacked the essential copy of a valid arrest warrant order.

A statement from the UAE’s judiciary said, “The UAE judiciary highlighted that South African authorities are allowed to resubmit the extradition request with new and additional documentation.”

The Justice Minister of South Africa, Ronald Lamola, stated that an appeal would be filed “promptly” because the ruling “flies in the face of guarantees issued by the UAE authorities.”

According to Lamola, on April 6 the UAE officially informed South Africa that a court in the UAE had reached the ruling on February 13.

According to Lamola, a court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) found that the UAE has jurisdiction to prosecute the Guptas for money-laundering offenses allegedly committed in both the UAE and South Africa.

The Democratic Alliance, a major opposition group in South Africa, branded the failed extradition attempt a “national humiliation” and demanded an explanation from the justice ministry and the National Prosecuting Authority in front of Parliament’s justice portfolio committee.

Once Zuma was deposed in 2018, the two brothers, who were born in India, fled South Africa. The Guptas have been referred for criminal charges by a judicial inquiry established that same year to look into claims of corruption during Zuma’s presidency.

In an effort to shed its reputation as a haven for illegal funds, the United Arab Emirates has signed a number of extradition accords in recent years. Thirty applications were apparently granted this year.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), as the regional economic and trade hub, was placed on the ‘grey’ list of jurisdictions subject to heightened scrutiny by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in March 2022.

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