SA ‘shock’ as request for Gupta brothers extradition is unsuccessful. ‘National embarrassment’ says DA
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services has confirmed with “shock and dismay” that South Africa’s request for the extradition of the Gupta brothers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been unsuccessful. The Guptas – fugitives Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta – are alleged to be the masterminds behind the state capture and corruption […]
The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services has confirmed with “shock and dismay” that South Africa’s request for the extradition of the Gupta brothers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been unsuccessful. The Guptas – fugitives Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta – are alleged to be the masterminds behind the state capture and corruption that brought South Africa to its knees.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, said in a statement today that last night (6 April) they were informed that the extradition hearing had been concluded on 13 February 2023, and that the request had been unsuccessful. The manner in which this decision was taken goes against the UN Convention Against Corruption, according to SA, who intend to appeal the decision.
‘Gangster State’ author Pieter-Louis Myburgh tweeted: “The brothers always knew their Estina/Eskom/Transnet rainy day fund would be handy in the desert.”
The Department of Correctional Services had issued a media statement a week ago (30 March) raising concern that SA had not been informed if there was a Court appearance which is standard practice in extradition hearings. “To this end we requested a meeting at both a Ministerial level and central authority level,” said the Minister today, before outlining the timeline of events related to the extradition.
Bungled Gupta extradition a national embarrassment
Adv Glynnis Breytenbach – DA Shadow Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development – said the “bungled Gupta extradition is a national embarrassment and shows that the Jacob Zuma tentacles are very alive and well in the current cabinet and government”.
She said Lamola’s reaction of “shock and dismay” is a “disgrace and confirms his utter lack of control of this Portfolio and gross dereliction of duty”.
Adv Breytenbach said: “The DoJ was, by all accounts, only informed of this monumental failure on 6 April. This begs the question of what exactly the Criminal Justice Cluster has been doing for the past year. Each query (from the DA about the extradition) has been met with platitudes and hollow assurances that everything was under control. Clearly, this is far from the truth.
“Once again, an issue of massive importance has not been communicated to the public, nor to the Portfolio Committee on Justice, responsible for oversight over both the DoJ and the NPA. Little wonder reports are circulating about the Guptas travelling the world on South African passports to boot.” (According to local reports, the brothers have recently been spotted travelling in Switzerland, a country coincidentally that Trevor Noah and Roger Federer – both half Swiss/half South African – have been promoting together.)
Was there ever a serious intention to extradite the Guptas?
“The question now stands, whether there was ever serious intention to successfully extradite these perpetrators, bearing in mind the consequences it would have ensued for so many highly placed ANC members.
“This is a massive failure on the part of both institutions and a serious blow to holding the perpetrators of State Capture accountable,” said the DA’s shadow minister.
Detailed Timeline of Activities undertaken by South Africa related to the Gupta brothers extradition request:
The Department of Correctional Services has meanwhile issued this detailed timeline concerning the extradition request:
- February 2022 Interpol Confirms Red Notices have been issued for the Gupta fugitives
- June 2022, the UAE inform SA and Interpol that Atul Kumar Gupta and Rajesh Kumar Gupta have been arrested by the police in Dubai, the Department travelled to the UAE.
- July 2022, South Africa delivers the formal extradition request to the authorities in the UAE.
- September 2022, the Director-General of the Department of Justice, and Constitutional Development, in his capacity as the Central Authority, wrote to His Excellency Addullah bin Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, the Minister of Justice in the UAE, as a follow up to the request.
- October 2022, the Central Authority travelled to the UAE to meet with Judge Al Balushi, and other representatives from the UAE Central Authority, including the prosecutor who is attending to the extradition request in Dubai. Judge Al Balushi was requested to keep the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Department abreast of developments.
- January 2023, at the request of the Central Authority the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi directed a Note Verbale to the Ministry of Justice requesting to be informed regarding the current status of the extradition request. The Embassy has indicated that they are waiting for a formal response from the Ministry of Justice in the UAE.
- February 2023, the Central Authority addressed a further letter to His Excellency Addullah bin Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, referring to his previous correspondence and again requesting a written update on the extradition proceedings of Mr Rajesh Gupta and Mr Atul Gupta.
- March 2023, the Central Authority requests for a meeting at the level of Central Authority and at a Ministerial level at the United Arab Emirates
- 6 April 2023, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services engages the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates directly and advised that a Note Verbale from United Arab Emirates was received on 5 April 2023.
The Justice Minister said today:
“In the evening of the 6th of April 2023, we were provided note verbale from United Arab Emirates in which we learnt with shock and dismay that the extradition hearing had been concluded in the Dubai Court on the 13 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 South Africa, in terms of the Federal laws of the United Arab Emirates 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 provided for denying our request are of a technical nature and fly in the face of the assurances given by Emirati authorities that our requests meet their requirements. This approach is inconsistent with article 17 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, to which both nations are a signatory.
“Article 17 places a clear requirement on State parties to obtain clarity on a specific matter before refusing an extradition request. It reads: Before refusing extradition, the requested State Party shall, where appropriate, consult with the requesting State Party to provide it with ample opportunity to present its opinions and to provide information relevant to its allegation.
“We still intend to engage our counterparts as requested in March to ensure that the decision of the court is promptly appealed, in the recent past we are aware that Denmark has appealed and succeed in obtaining a extradition request.”
The Minister said South Africa will engage with the UAE in a manner that “enhances the levels of co-operation to preserve the integrity of our bilateral relations”.
The DA says it will immediately write to the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee of Justice, requesting an urgent meeting with the DoJ and NPA to account for this “unacceptable state of affairs”.
“South Africans must no longer be fooled by this disregard for justice and deserve better,” said Adv Breytenbach.
'Detained' Gupta brothers reportedly spotted in Switzerland https://t.co/fprQVlj9kM
— OUTA (@OUTASA) April 6, 2023
I have so many questions. Including wtf did the SA mission/diplomats in UAE do to assist and monitor the situation? https://t.co/wHraokQgsY
— Pauli Van Wyk (@PaulivW) April 7, 2023