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UAE 'No' to South Africa Gupta Extradition


FILE: on April 16, 2018 in Johannesburg., South African officials on April 16 raided a Johannesburg property belonging to the Guptas, the wealthy business family at the heart of graft allegations against former president Jacob Zuma. The Gupta brothers fled the country.

UPDATED WITH SOUTH AFRICA REACTION: LONDON - A United Arab Emirates court has dismissed South Africa's request to extradite Atul and Rajesh Gupta, brothers who face charges of political corruption, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said on Friday.

South Africa said Friday it had learnt with "shock and dismay" that the United Arab Emirates had turned down its request to extradite two brothers accused of orchestrating industrial-scale corruption.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola bluntly accused the UAE of "non-cooperation" after being informed late Thursday of a court ruling against extraditing tycoons Atul and Rajesh Gupta.

"We learned with shock and dismay that the extradition hearing had been concluded in the Dubai Court on the 13 February 2023 and our extradition request was unsuccessful," Lamola said in a statement.

He added that South Africa would "promptly appeal" the decision, which he said "flies in the face of assurances given by the UAE authorities."

Lamola said the extradition had been denied on a technicality.

The Dubai court, he said, 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.

As to the charge of fraud and corruption, "the court found that the arrest warrant relating to this charge was cancelled," Lamola said.

"The reasons provided for denying our request are inexplicable and fly in the face of the assurances given by Emirati authorities that our requests meet their requirements."

Lamola accused the UAE of failing to properly consult the South African government before the extradition was rejected.

Such a "level of non-cooperation" was "highly unprecedented," he said.

The Guptas are accused of using their connections with Jacob Zuma, president of South Africa from 2009 to 2018, to win contracts, influence cabinet appointments and siphon off state funds. Zuma and the Guptas have denied all wrongdoing.

The Indian-born brothers left South Africa after Zuma was unseated in 2018. A judicial inquiry established in 2018 to examine allegations of graft during Zuma's years in power has recommended criminal charges against the Guptas.

The UAE ratified an extradition treaty with South Africa in April 2021, a move South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's government had hoped would lead to the return of the Guptas to face charges.

This report was sourced from Reuters and Agence France-Presse