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UAE arrests Gupta brothers, wanted in South Africa

President Jacob Zuma Creative Commons/GCIS South Africa
President Jacob Zuma speaks in South Africa's National Assembly on March 16, 2017. His links to the Gupta brothers are under investigation

The United Arab Emirates has arrested Rajesh and Atul Gupta, brothers who face charges of corruption in South Africa.

Dubai Police confirmed the arrest on Twitter, posting on Tuesday that it had received an Interpol red notice for the brothers and was coordinating with the South African authorities “regarding the extradition file to complete the legal procedures”.

South Africa’s Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services said on Monday that various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and South Africa were discussing “the way forward”. The two nations agreed an extradition treaty in 2021.

The Gupta brothers are accused of using their connection with Jacob Zuma, who was South Africa’s president from 2009 to 2018, to win contracts, misappropriate state assets, influence cabinet appointments and siphon off state funds.

The former president and the Guptas deny any wrongdoing.

The Indian-born brothers left South Africa after Zuma was ousted in 2018. An inquiry was established in 2018 to examine allegations of graft during his time in office.

After the UAE-South Africa extradition treaty was ratified in April 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government expressed hopes that it would lead to the return of the Guptas to face charges.

Dubai Police added: “The arrest reflects the continuous efforts of the UAE in combating money laundering crimes through local cooperation among the competent authorities, including the Ministry of Justice, the Dubai Public Prosecution, the Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, and the Financial Intelligence Unit.”

South Africa’s largest opposition party has welcomed the arrests.

“We hope that this is indeed the beginning of arrests and prosecution of those who have – locally and abroad – looted our country for years and are directly responsible for the hardships that millions of South Africans face today,” said the Democratic Alliance in a statement.