South Africa’s request to extradite Atul and Rajesh Gupta, brothers accused of political corruption, has been dismissed by a court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to reports by Reuters.
The Guptas are said to have used their connections with former South African President Jacob Zuma to gain contracts, influence cabinet appointments, and embezzle state funds. Both Zuma and the Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.
South Africa received diplomatic communication from the UAE on April 6, informing them of the court’s decision, which took place on February 13. Justice Minister Ronald Lamola has expressed his disappointment and stated that South Africa will appeal the decision, which he says “flies in the face of assurances given by the UAE authorities”.
The court has ruled that the UAE has jurisdiction to prosecute the Guptas for money-laundering offenses allegedly committed in both the UAE and South Africa.
The Indian-born brothers left South Africa after Zuma was unseated in 2018. A judicial inquiry set up in 2018 to investigate allegations of graft during Zuma’s presidency has recommended criminal charges against the Guptas.
The UAE ratified an extradition treaty with South Africa in April 2021, and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government had hoped it would lead to the return of the Guptas to face charges. However, Lamola’s recent announcement has dashed those hopes.
The Gupta case has been widely reported on and has been described as a test of the UAE’s willingness to cooperate with other countries in the fight against corruption.