Johannesburg - South African businessman Zunaid Moti has been freed from a prison in Munich, Germany, where he was detained for more than two months.
The Star can reveal that Moti was released after the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) said he was not being sought to answer for alleged criminal activities.
“The general secretariat of the international criminal police organisation hereby certifies that as of today, Zunaid Abbas Moti, born on September 3, 1974, is not subject to Interpol notice or diffusion,” read a statement issued by Interpol’s secretary-general.
Speaking on behalf of the family, lawyer Ulrich Roux said they were relieved at the outcome and that Moti would remain in Germany until all the legal processes to release him had been resolved.
“We are grateful to Interpol for their confirmation that Mr Moti is not subject to any Red Notice or Diffusion Notice. This has been a long wait, but Interpol have moved as quickly as their internal processes allow. Now that we have received these documents, our legal representatives will work closely with authorities to ensure that Interpol’s confirmation is acknowledged within the ongoing legal process in Germany,” said Roux.
Moti was arrested at a Munich airport on August 19 when he was leaving Germany. He had been in the country for business meetings.
It is not clear if he was ever charged of any crime in Germany.
His arrest followed a “wanted person” notice by Russian authorities. Prior to being cleared by Interpol, speculation was rife that he could be moved to a prison in Moscow.
Russian authorities had applied for Moti’s extradition from Germany. A preliminary extradition order was reportedly granted, and was due for finalisation.
Prospects of his extradition to Russia caused panic in Moti’s family.
The Russians accused him of defrauding a Russian citizen, Alibek Issaev, out of R6.6-million in an alleged bogus mining deal.
His father, Abbas Aboo Baker Moti and their business associates Ashruf Kaka and Salim Bobat had also been accused of working with him in the alleged fraud.
The fraud allegedly took place in Lebanon in 2013. In affidavits filed at the North Gauteng High Court last year, the two Motis, Kaka and Bobat, denied defrauding Issaev.
None of them had ever been to Lebanon, they maintained. They claimed their stand-off with the Russians was the result of a potential business deal between them and Issaev that went sour.
At some point, Issaev allegedly stole a rare R500m pink diamond from them the four claimed.
Roux recently asserted that Moti’s detention had been orchestrated by a “Russian Mafia” syndicate.
The diffusion notice that led to his detention by the Germans was issued by Russian authorities and not Interpol, Roux said previously.
“The alleged charges are evidently a complete fabrication and part of a continued stratagem adopted by the Russian Mafia to extort payment of substantial sums of money,” Roux said.
The Department of International Relations and Co-operation said it needed some time to confirm Moti’s release with its embassy in Germany.
“We know Mr Moti. If Interpol has cleared him, then our embassy will arrange for his immediate return. He will obviously come back home quicker if the family is paying. When a person is released from a prison outside South Africa the government is not responsible for any costs of travel,” said department spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya.@BonganiNkosi87