UAE Declines Extradition Request for South African Gupta Brothers Accused of Corruption

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Image credit: Economic Times

The United Arab Emirates has rejected South Africa’s request to extradite business tycoons Atul and Rajesh Gupta, who are accused of orchestrating industrial-scale corruption with former President Jacob Zuma. According to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, the government was notified on Thursday evening of the Dubai court’s decision to not allow for the extradition.

Lamola said the court determined that the UAE had jurisdiction on the charge of money laundering, as the crime in question was alleged to have been committed in the country as well as in South Africa. On the charge of fraud and corruption, the court found that the arrest warrant had been cancelled.

The Gupta brothers are out of South Africa but had been arrested in Dubai in June 2020 and remain to be wanted for their criminal activities in South Africa. The Gupta’s fled the nation back in 2018 as part of an anti-corruption campaign that sought to uncover large-scale fraud from state owned enterprises.

Following the extradition request that was sent by the South African government in July 2020, the Gupta brothers have been running from their sentence for almost a year now. Despite their extradition being denied, Lamola is determined to work with the counterparts in the UAE to ensure that the decisions of the court is appealed.

The Gupta familial enterprise quickly becoming infamous in South Africa as they reportedly had a high amount of influence over the decisions that former President Jacob Zuma instilled. It was discovered that they had managed to manipulate the system in order to facilitate their own economic growth and the misappropriation of state funds.

This is not the first time that the Gupta corporate empire has ended up in the court. In 2013, they were convicted of forming an illegal network of businesses and were sentenced to prison time. Many of their business ventures have since gone bankrupt and their legal battle for evading justice continues.

Atul and Rajesh Gupta are two Indian-born brothers who migrated to South Africa in 1993. Under the tenure of former President Jacob Zuma, the two brothers took advantage of their personal ties to incorporate themselves into powerful roles in both the South African government and the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Subsequent to the 5,600-page report published in 2020, it has been concluded that the duo had heavily plundered the state-owned enterprises.

It remains to be seen how long it will take for the Gupta brothers to receive the justice they deserve. In the meantime, the UAE’s refusal to extradite the two has certainly come as a shock and dismay to South African authorities.