Law enforcement authorities in the United Arab Emirates have detained Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta, who was accused in South Africa of utilising their relationship with ex-president Jacob Zuma to benefit financially and influence senior appointments.
On Monday, 6 June, the detention of both brothers was confirmed by the South African government. It is still unclear why the third brother, Ajay, has not been arrested.
The brothers have denied all the charges against them.
The Gupta family went into self-exile in Dubai in 2018 after robbing billions of rands from parastatal institutions in South Africa, said authorities.
On Monday, the South African Department of Justice and Correctional Services said that the ministry of justice and correctional services verified that it had got information from law enforcement authorities in the UAE that offenders of justice, namely Rajesh and Atul Gupta, have been arrested.
It further added that discussions between South Africa and the UAE law enforcement agencies continue.
“The South African government will continue to co-operate with the UAE.”
Interpol had allocated Red Notices to both the brothers, who had also been regarded as persona non grata (an unwelcome person) by the UK and the US.
Red Notices are given to offenders wanted for the prosecution to warn law agencies worldwide to detain such persons pending extradition.
In 2018, the family escaped from South Africa when the net closed in on them as massive public protests led to the ANC removing president Zuma and appointing Cyril Ramaphosa as the Ruling President.
Earlier, South Africa had also demanded the UN to get the Guptas back in South Africa when various negotiations with the UAE did not produce results, as there was no extradition treaty between both nations.
The treaty was sanctioned in June 2021, when the process of requesting the extradition of the Guptas was started immediately by South Africa.
The Guptas told the Commission of Inquiry in State Capture in 2018 that they are not ready to return to South Africa to attest after several witnesses implicated them and Zuma in many corrupt cases.
In their affidavit to the commission, the brothers said the South African authorities are ‘recklessly incompetent’.
Many witnesses testified the position of the Guptas in robbing massive amounts and influencing the appointment of Cabinet ministers in the nine years of Zuma as the president of South Africa.
The CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, Wayne Duvenhage, stated their investigations had disclosed that the robbery done by Guptas amounted to almost 15 billion rands before they escaped from the country.
Originally hailing from Saharanpur in India, the Gupta family entered South Africa by establishing a shoe store in the early 1990s.
Soon, they expanded their business to IT, media and mining companies, all of which are sold or closed by now.
The Bank of Baroda (BoB) also became indirectly involved in the crime as they had helped the Guptas open bank accounts when all other banks in South Africa stopped dealings with the family.
BoB later closed its South African operations, noting a global cutback of operations.