Johannesburg - The Hawks have vowed they will use all avenues to ensure the arrest of the Gupta brothers, who are believed to have fled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
On Monday, Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said South Africa has extradition treaties with India and China.
“We are in the process of checking our standing with Dubai, but what I want to emphasise is that all avenues will be examined to bring them back to answer to their charges,” he said.
Mulaudzi added that they will submit an extradition application when the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) instructs them to make the application.
“We will then engage Interpol and bring them back here,” he said.
A senior official in the Department of International Relations and Co-operation said the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma were believed to be in Dubai, which does not have an extradition treaty with South Africa.
The government was set to use diplomatic channels to apprehend the Guptas, the official said, adding that they had secured co-operation from India, China and the UAE when the investigation started.
“As soon as they are traced there won’t be any problem to bring them here. Even in the absence of an extradition treaty, we can via bilateral mechanisms secure co-operation whenever there is a case that involves somebody who has broken the law in country A and flees to country B,” he explained.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had not sent India a request for the arrest of Ajay or any of the brothers because security agencies believed they had fled to the UAE.
It is believed that Ajay left India a day after Jacob Zuma’s resignation.
“Our agencies have established where they are. The request (for their arrest) would not have not gone to India. They are not there. They are in the UAE. I think in the next 24 to 72 hours there will be developments,” he added.
The Gupta family and their allies have launched a high court fight back against the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit, opposing the freezing of their multimillion- rand assets over alleged corruption.
Interpol’s general secretariat said information on fugitives remain under the ownership of that member country. “With regard to your request in relation to this individual, we would advise you to contact the authorities in the countries where you believe there may be an investigation ongoing,” it said in response to questions sent to Interpol.
Last month, the Bloemfontein High Court granted a preservation order to the NPA, which saw the seizure of Gupta assets and bank accounts linked to the alleged illegal siphoning of around R220million from the Free State Agriculture Department in 2013, through their Vrede dairy farm project.
The project was aimed at supporting black emerging farmers, but it was allegedly used by the family to facilitate the looting of the provincial government’s coffers.
About R30m was used for the Guptas’ lavish wedding at Sun City in North West, with R10m deposited into a personal account.
The Hawks are currently on a hunt for the eldest Gupta brother, Ajay, who has been declared a fugitive. He is on the run after a warrant was issued for his arrest over similar corruption allegations.
On Monday, Atul Gupta and several individuals implicated in the Free State dairy farm corruption allegations filed papers in the high court, opposing the NPA’s asset seizure.
Read more: Atul Gupta challenges Estina court order
In papers filed in the court, Atul, who confirmed that he was out of the country, accused NPA financial investigator Nkosiphendule Mradla of misleading the court and failing to provide proof of the money he alleges was paid to him and others who stand accused.
He said the funds were paid to Estina, the Gupta-linked company which was controversially granted a 99-year lease of the farm by the Free State government.
“The allegations contained in Mradla’s affidavit pertaining to this alleged payment are not referred to or substantiated in either of the other two affidavits filed in support of the application or any of the annexures thereto.
“Most critically, Mradla and the NDPP (National Director of Public Prosecutions) have not demonstrated in the application for the preservation order that any portion of the amount paid to Estina (R220202652) was transferred into any bank account held by me (or for that matter into the bank accounts of any of the other affected parties, other than Estina).
“No evidence whatsoever has been put up in relation to this.
“I categorically deny any such transfer into any bank account owned or operated by me,” Atul said.
But NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku dismissed Atul’s claims, saying bank statements of accounts involved were included in their application.
Mfaku said others implicated in the case had also launched separate applications to oppose the preservation order.
This included Nazeem Howa, former chief executive of the Gupta-owned Oakbay company.
“There are notices of intention to oppose (the order) from other people affected, about six of them,” Mfaku pointed out.
He said the NPA was already preparing its own papers to oppose their applications.
“They are entitled in terms of the Prevention of Organised Crimes Act to bring applications and challenge the preservation order and they have done so, but we are opposing their applications.
“Our people are going to file (papers) in due course. They have been busy working on them,” Mfaku added.
The matter is set to be heard in the Bloemfontein High Court next Thursday.