Almost 10 months since alleged kingpins Atul and Rajesh Gupta were arrested in Dubai, the South African government says it is still awaiting an update from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the status of its extradition application.
His brother Gupta was arrested
The country’s fugitives were arrested in Dubai in June last year, four months after Interpol issued a red notice for them in connection with allegations of fraud and money laundering in South Africa.
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Since then, there have been questions about an extradition application by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services to bring the Gupta brothers back to the country to answer charges of state capture and large-scale corruption leveled against them.
Late last year, the justice department said Atul and Rajesh remained in police custody after their bid to be released on bail was rejected by UAE prosecuting authorities.
The department also said a date has not been set for the extradition hearing as more details have been requested by UAE authorities regarding the country’s domestic law. The department said it had complied with requests for more information.
Lamola is ‘concerned’ about being late
In a brief statement on Thursday, Justice and Corrections Minister Ronald Lamola said he was concerned that there had been no update on the Gupta brothers’ first court appearance in the UAE to determine whether there would be a hearing on the extradition application. .
This follows a visit by the South African Central Authority to the country to ensure that the extradition application meets the requirements of the UAE authorities.
The Central Authority facilitates the implementation and operation of international agreements in public and private international law, this includes receiving and processing requests for extradition and mutual legal assistance.
“So far, the Central Authority has made various inquiries, the latest request is an important meeting between the two central authorities and the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and their counterparts in the United Arab Emirates,” said department spokesman Chrispin Phiri.
Phiri added that the department is pursuing the matter through diplomatic channels in accordance with the extradition treaty between the two countries.
R24.9m After the corruption trial
The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) said the arrest of the Gupta brothers was linked to the R24.9 million Nulane Investments issue.
The matter relates to a procurement fraud involving R24.9 million paid between November 2011 and April 2012 by the Free State Department of Agriculture to Nulane Investments, a company owned and controlled by Gupta associate Iqbal Sharma.
Read: The High Court rejected a bid for more information on the R24.9m Gupta-related Nulane Investments case
From there, the funds were allegedly diverted to Islandsite Investments, namely Atul and Rajesh Gupta and their wives Chetali and Arti Gupta.
The case is one of the first state capture-related matters brought to court, and the state case was struck down in February in the Free State High Court.
Five of the accused in the matter applied for discharge under section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Act, arguing that the state had no case.
This was after Acting Judge Nompumelelo Gusha ruled that most of the state’s documentary evidence, which the accused had disputed, was inadmissible in court.
The six accused in the trial are Sharma, former Free State rural development department chief Peter Thabethe, former Free State agriculture department chief Limakatso Moorosi, former provincial agriculture CFO Seipati Dhlamini, Sharma’s brother-in-law and deputies. from Nulane Dinesh Patel, Islandsite director Ronica Ragavan; and Nulane Investments and Islandsite as entities.
Judge Gusha is expected to rule on the discharge application on April 21.
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