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All eyes now on extradition process for the two arrested Gupta brothers

Gupta brothers, Ajay and Atul. Picture: Supplied

Gupta brothers, Ajay and Atul. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 8, 2022

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Cape Town - All eyes are now on the extradition process following Monday night’s arrests of Atul and Rajesh “Tony” Gupta, who are wanted in South Africa for money laundering and other criminal charges.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) national spokesperson Mthunzi Mhaga said that extradition was a complex process involving many role-players, including members of the executive.

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“It would therefore not be appropriate for the NPA to discuss the details of that process in the media, but we can confirm that we are engaging with relevant authorities in South Africa and the UAE.”

Mhaga said the NPA had an experienced team of internal and external experts who were working closely with law enforcement and their partners in the criminal justice system on the matter.

Justice Ministry spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said: “Discussions between various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and South Africa on the way forward are ongoing.”

Interpol Turn Back Crime Campaign Ambassador Andy Mashaile said that the process began in earnest on Monday, but he could not predict how long it would take.

Regarding the third Gupta brother, Ajay, who had not been arrested by the Dubai police, Mashaile said he was not sure if there was any legal reason for it, and could only speculate.

“What I do know is that the guys facing a lot of charges would have been Rajesh and Atul, but that does not excuse the other brother. It is unclear to me, and obviously law enforcement in Dubai won’t say why they have not arrested him.”

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In their statement released after the arrests on Monday night, the Dubai police said “Atul and Rajesh Gupta are wanted in South Africa over money laundering and criminal charges.”

They referred to the two as being among South Africa’s “most wanted suspects”. They made the arrests after receiving a Red Notice from Interpol.

An Interpol Red Notice is a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition, surrender, or similar legal action.

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Corruption Watch executive director Karam Singh said the arrests were perhaps no coincidence given that the UAE heads Interpol, and had faced increasing pressure over its lax approach to money laundering and reluctance to extradite suspects.

“The arrests did not come out of the blue, but are the result of persistent efforts to institute a legal process against the brothers.

“While it is a significant development, it is just one step closer to ensuring that justice is done.”

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Executive Head of Accountability for the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) Stefanie Fick said the lobby group had always said that fighting corruption required resilience, and that those implicated would eventually get their day in court.

“It seems like that day is around the corner for the Gupta kingpins. This is a major step forward in the prosecution of state capture culprits,” said Fick.

Outa’s lead state capture investigator Rudie Heyneke said the group had investigated the Gupta Leaks, and shared information on their findings with law enforcement authorities.

They also made several section 27 referrals to the NPA to assist in their investigations into the state capture.

Political parties also weighed in on the reports of the arrests, with the ANC urging law enforcement authorities in South Africa and the UAE to expedite the extradition of the Gupta brothers so that the charges against them can be adjudicated by a court of law to determine their guilt or innocence.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the party reiterated its support for the work of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, headed by Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. DA national spokesperson Siviwe Gwarube, MP, said the party hoped that the arrests were the beginning of arrests and prosecution of those who had looted the country for years and were directly responsible for the hardships that millions of South Africans face today.

Speaking at press conference, EFF leader Julius Malema said the arrest of the Guptas was a diversion from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s troubles over claims of fraud and money laundering after a theft at his game farm near Bela-Bela in Limpopo.

FF Plus leader Pieter Groenewald said if the Gupta brothers were extradited and successfully prosecuted, it would significantly improve South Africa’s image and create the impression that the government was serious about bringing state capturers to book.

ActionSA President Herman Mashaba said the arrest was good news and worth celebrating. He said it was essential that the years and billions spent on the State Capture Commission of Inquiry were given meaning and value by corresponding actions that deliver justice to the people of South Africa.

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