UAE turned down request to extradite Gupta brothers back to South Africa
By Sihle Mavuso | IOL News |
The Department of Justice and Correctional Services has eventually confirmed that the United Emirates Arabs (UAE) turned down South Africa’s request to have the Gupta brothers extradited to South Africa to face charges of money laundering and fraud.
This was revealed by the department’s minister, Ronald Lamola, on Friday morning during an impromptu press conference which was called after it was reported that the Guptas brothers were recently spotted in Switzerland, Europe.
Lamola said they were informed of the court’s decision through a note verbale (a diplomatic communication from one government to another, delivered through each other’s diplomatic representatives).
Lamola gave a long timeline of how they dealt with the matter, even saying at some point, they raised concerns when the UAE was not giving them information on the court appearances of the Gupta brothers.
“On the 6th of April 2023, which is yesterday, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services engages the ambassador of the United Arab Emirates directly, and he advised that a note verbale from the United Arab Emirates was received on the 5th of April 2023 after an enquiry from our side when we read some newspaper articles in relations to the matter.
He said it was then that they learnt that the court process was concluded, and the request by South Africa to extradite the Guptas was duly turned down.
“We learnt with shock and dismay that the extradition have been concluded in the Dubai courts … on the 13th of February 2023, and our extradition request was unsuccessful.
“The court found that on the charge of money laundering, the crime in question is alleged to have been committed in the United Arab Emirates and in South Africa.
“In terms of the federal laws of the United Arab Emirates, an extradition can be denied because the United Arab Emirates has the jurisdiction to prosecute the crime.
“On the charge of fraud, the court found that the arrest warrant relating to this charge was cancelled.
“The reasons for denying our request are of a technical nature,” Lamola said, adding that there was no reason to dismiss the extradition request.
Lamola said they intend to appeal the decision as they believe that the matter was wrongly handled by the Arab nation’s courts.
“We still intend to engage with our counterparts in the UAE as requested in March to ensure the decision of the court is properly appealed as well devise other mechanisms to deal with the matter,” he said.
Another shocking revelation was that South Africa learnt through the UAE that the court that turned down South Africa’s request to extradite the Guptas and recorded them as citizens of Vanuatu.
Vanuatu is a small island nation in Oceania, it has a population of about 307 000, and it was once a British colony.
Other reports imply that the Guptas are on the African continent, where they are seeking asylum in various countries, while others are claiming they are living in Baku, Azerbaijan.