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United Arab Emirates rejects extradition of Gupta brothers

Atul Gupta looks on outside the Randburg magistrate court, near Johannesburg...   -  
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South Africa

The South African government announced Friday that its request for the extradition of brothers Atul and Rajesh Gupta, at the heart of a massive state corruption scandal involving former president Jacob Zuma, has been refused by a court in the United Arab Emirates.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said the government was informed on Thursday evening of a Dubai court's decision not to allow the extradition of the two brothers arrested in the same city in June.

"We were shocked and dismayed to learn that the extradition hearing was held in the Dubai court on 13 February 2023 and that our extradition request was denied," Lamola said in a statement.

The two Guptas, along with a third brother Ajay, of Indian origin and a formidable trio of businessmen, are accused of looting the state coffers, with the complicity of Mr. Zuma, during his nine years in power (2009-2018).

South Africa made an extradition request in July, shortly after the brothers were arrested in Dubai.

The trio fled South Africa shortly after the establishment in 2018 of a commission headed by Justice Raymond Zondo to investigate state corruption.

At the centre of the extradition request is a questionable public contract worth the equivalent of €1.5 million. A small part of the accumulated charges against the Gupta brothers.

According to Lamola, the UAE court found that it had jurisdiction over the money laundering charges against the two brothers, as the offences were committed both in the country and in South Africa.

On the fraud and corruption charges, the court ruled that the arrest warrant had been cancelled, according to the minister.

"The reasons given for the rejection of our application are inexplicable," he said.

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