The Department of Justice and Correctional Services says it is waiting for vital information from the United Arab Emirates on why a February extradition request for Atul and Rajesh Gupta was denied, before it submits a new request.
THE DEPARTMENT of Justice and Correctional Services says it is waiting for vital information from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on why a February extradition request for Atul and Rajesh Gupta was denied, before it submits a new request.
The brothers were arrested in Dubai after the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) last year issued a red notice alert for members of the family in connection with money laundering charges.
Atul and Rajesh are facing allegations of looting billions of rand through state capture. The brothers deny any wrongdoing and have fought the application of red notices issued by Interpol. They say they are victims of a political witch-hunt in South Africa.
In February, the UAE court turned down the extradition request as the court found that on the charge of money laundering, the crime in question, was alleged to have been committed in the UAE and in South Africa, and federal laws of the UAE state that an extradition can be denied because that country has the jurisdiction to prosecute the crime.
The court also found on the charge of fraud that the arrest warrant relating to this charge was cancelled.
The department’s spokesperson, Chrispin Phiri, said in August that Minister Ronald Lamola and director-general Doc Mashabane directed letters to their counterparts in the UAE.
These letters stated “South Africa’s position, that despite the UAE’s invitation to submit a new extradition request, it remains necessary to first obtain clarity on the questions asked previously by the Central Authority of South Africa in order to assess the matter before a decision can be taken to submit a new extradition request”.
“The department has not yet received a response to the correspondence and the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi is following up in this regard,” Phiri said.
Wits Professor Emeritus of International Law, André Thomashausen, said despite claims against the Guptas, there was no direct evidence produced by prosecuting authorities against them.
“The NPA (National Prosecuting Authority) has not been able to make a case against them … the NPA’s case appears to be based on common purpose doctrine which says they are guilty by association, but this doctrine is not followed in other countries, including the UAE.”
International relations expert Dr Noluthando Phungula of the University of KwaZulu-Natal said one needed to consider whether South Africa actually intended to have the Guptas extradited.
“The reality is that their extradition has serious consequences for certain ANC members who may have been involved in their dealings. Such high-ranking members would not look forward to the brothers’ extradition and this is a reality.” Phungula said the UAE joining the BRICS grouping could also be a factor in the extradition process.
“This could provide leverage for a genuinely willing SA government to gain respect from the UAE as a partner.
“On the other hand, this development may also pressurise SA to tread carefully and not put unnecessary pressure on the formation’s latest member.”