South African businessman Zunaid Moti. Picture: Paballo Thekiso/African News Agency (ANA)
Prominent South African businessman Zunaid Moti has safely returned home after a harrowing five months in a German jail.

Moti’s family and business associates confirmed yesterday that the 44-year-old chairperson of the Moti Group landed at the OR Tambo International Airport on Sunday, following months of detention in Munich.

His release follows the cancellation of an arrest warrant issued in Russia last month. He was released on Saturday.

Moti's spokesperson Ulrich Roux said: “We are delighted and relieved that Moti is a free man again and that this disgraceful ordeal has finally come to an end. The full exoneration of Moti makes the fact of his detention in Germany all the more unacceptable, and we expect a thorough investigation of how this failure of justice was perpetuated in a so-called "First World democracy".

"For now, Moti wishes to express his gratitude to his colleagues, staff and partners who have led his companies admirably in the last several months and he is now looking forward to returning to his business and philanthropic ventures.”

Although Interpol exonerated Moti of any wrongdoing in November, he remained locked up until his release on Sunday. German police spokesperson Deniz Bora yesterday refused to get into details about the arrest and subsequent release.

According to the family, Moti was stopped from leaving Germany in August last year and placed under provisional detention by German authorities acting on a Diffusion Notice first issued in the Russia in December 2017. They alleged that this was at the request of a known Russian Mafia figure, who resides in Dubai. It was alleged that the Mafia had twice attempted to have Moti detained through a Red Notice in Lebanon in January 2017 and in Moscow via a Diffusion Notice in January last year.

The Russians accused him of defrauding one of its nationals, Alibek Issaev, out of R6.6million in an alleged bogus mining deal. However, Interpol was believed to have dismissed both notices.

“It has been clear that the alleged charges emanating from Russia are a complete fabrication and part of a continued stratagem by the Russian Mafia to extort payment from Moti,” Roux said.

The Interpol’s role is to assist national police forces in identifying and locating wanted individuals with a view to their arrest and extradition or similar lawful action.

Interpol head office in Lyon, France, referred all enquiries regarding the Moti case to the German police who have refused to comment on the matter.

Cherie Blair QC, Moti’s legal representative based in London, said that Interpol needed to guard against the abuse of its policies by mischievous individuals.

“This is the latest worrying example in a growing list of instances where international law enforcement mechanisms have been suborned for political or personal vendettas.

"It must be an urgent priority for Interpol’s new chairperson Kim Jong Yang to enshrine greater international co-operation to stop the persecution of private citizens through abuse of its infrastructure,” said Blair.