SAPS cautions against fake news
SAPS cautions against fake news. REUTERS/James Oatway/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates has ratified a 2018 extradition treaty with South Africa, its embassy in Pretoria said on Wednesday, a move that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government hopes will lead to the return of the Gupta brothers to face corruption charges.

South Africa signed the treaty with the UAE in late 2018, part of Ramaphosa’s effort to crack down on those accused of corruption and influence peddling under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

It was ratified in April, UAE’s embassy said in a statement.

The Gupta brothers – Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – are accused of using connections with Zuma to win contracts, misappropriate state assets, inappropriately influence cabinet appointments and siphon off billions of rand in state funds.

The Indian-born brothers, who have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, are believed to be in Dubai where they own property and businesses.

“These agreements have been and remain key to the UAE in promoting judicial and legal cooperation with South Africa and strengthening bilateral relations between law enforcement institutions and partners on both sides,” the UAE’s ambassador to South Africa, Mahash Alhameli, said in the statement.

The statement added that the ratification was “aimed at preventing crime on the basis of mutual respect for the sovereignty of both countries, strengthening cooperation in combating serious crimes, including organised crime, and ensuring that criminals were not denied justice”.

South Africa’s National Prosecution Authority (NPA) last week asked Interpol to put the Gupta brothers on their “red list”, an international notice issued for fugitives. Business people linked to the Guptas have also been arrested in recent months.

The NPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington in Dubai and Mfuneko Toyana in Johannesburg; Editing by Tim Cocks and Paul Simao)