Gupta brothers await extradition to South Africa after years of refuge in UAE

The Guptas have been heavily implicated in corruption allegations during the tenure of former South African President Jacob Zuma. The brothers and their families left South Africa for the UAE when Zuma stepped down in 2018.

Dubai police confirmed on Tuesday that they had arrested the couple on June 2, calling them “one of South Africa’s most wanted suspects”.

Both Zuma and the Guptas, through their attorneys, have repeatedly denied the allegations.

Interpol, now headed by UAE police chief General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi after his election last year, had issued a red warning to the Guptas earlier this year regarding fraud and money laundering.

Extradition is a complex process, the South African National Prosecutor told CNN on Tuesday, but officials are in talks with relevant authorities in South Africa and the UAE.

Dubai police said in a press release that they are in consultation with authorities in South Africa for “the extradition file to finalize legal proceedings”.

South Africa ratified extradition treaties with the UAE in June last year, according to the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services.

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The Guptas and their associates are also sanctioned by the US Treasury Department as a major corruption network and for using their “political connections to participate in widespread corruption and bribery, seize government contracts and embezzle state property”.

South Africans have learned details of some of the allegations during months of testimony in a transplant inquiry known as the ‘Zondo Commission’.

Details of alleged corruption were first revealed in November 2016, when a 355-page “State of Capture” report was published by the Public Protector of South Africa.

It contains allegations, and in some cases evidence, of favoritism, questionable business deals and ministerial appointments, and other possible large-scale corruption at the top of government.

UAE tackles financial corruption

The Guptas’ arrest is the second high-profile arrest in connection with alleged financial corruption by the UAE within a week, following Friday’s arrest of 52-year-old hedge fund trader Sanjay Shah, who is wanted on charges of fraud and money laundering. in Denmark. Shah maintains his innocence.

With an open business environment, availability of international banks and an international transportation hub, the emirates of the UAE, especially Dubai, have often attracted wealthy investors looking to expand their wealth.

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However, illicit actors have also often found it easy to launder money through the country’s economic sectors, the US State Department said in a report on global money laundering.

The report, released in March, highlighted gaps in the UAE’s regulatory oversight, allowing money laundering through banks, numerous exchange offices and general trading companies.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental watchdog, said in March that the UAE will be added to the list of countries subject to increased scrutiny for strategic deficiencies in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

In response, the UAE said it would “accelerate the pace” of a national action plan to combat the deficiencies and work with the FATF to tackle financial crime.

“This dossier is a strategic priority for the country,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said in March.

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