SA extradition treaty with UAE to come into effect on July 10
Agreement paves way for Gupta brothers to face corruption charges
Justice minister Ronald Lamola said on Friday that the extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had been finalised and would come into effect on July 10.
This followed a meeting with UAE ambassador to SA Mahash Saeed Salem Alhameli on Thursday.
“We welcome the finalisation and ratification of the treaties on extradition and mutual legal assistance between South Africa and the UAE,” Lamola said.
“These treaties are expected to allow for greater co-operation between the two states on legal matters and assist in the investigation and prosecution of crimes.”
The agreement paves the way for the Gupta brothers to face corruption charges in SA.
Lamola said despite SA and the UAE having ratified the convention, the government had to date not “experienced the level of appreciation and co-operation which is required in terms of the convention in the fight against corruption”.
“However, we will continue to pursue our counterparts through diplomatic channels, to reach the desired levels of co-operation to enable our law enforcement agencies to bring to justice persons of interest on any investigation they are pursuing,” he said.
“It is our hope that even though we could not get the assistance we required through the UN convention, the ratification of the two treaties symbolises a change of course and co-operation.
“It is common cause that SA has persons of interest who frequent the UAE and are believed to be in the UAE. It is worth mentioning that our request for mutual legal assistance to the UAE to date was not prohibited by the fact that there were no treaties in force between the two states.”
The Guptas left SA in 2018.
Investigating Directorate (ID) head advocate Hermione Cronje said last week that the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was applying to Interpol to help with the execution of arrest warrants in respect of:
- Atul Gupta and his wife, Chetali;
- Rajesh Gupta and his wife, Arti;
- Ankit Jain, former Nulane Investment Bank of Baroda account signatory;
- Ravindra Nath, director of Wone Management (Pty) Ltd; and
- Ramesh Bhat and Jagdish Parekh, the directors of Pragat Investments (Pty) Ltd.
NPA head Shamila Batohi said on Friday that despite the treaty being ratified with the UAE, “There was nothing up until this point that precluded co-operation between the two countries.
“We will only accept that there is full co-operation when we receive the necessary information that we have been requesting now for over three years without success.
“It is a positive development but we will only know that this is making a difference once our request for mutual legal assistance is fully executed by the UAE and we get the necessary co-operation, including evidence, from the UAE.”
Batohi said the evidence outstanding from the UAE included financial evidence — bank records and bank statements.
She said they hoped to get it “very soon”, given that they had been waiting for so long.
Lamola said the extradition process might take some time.
“We really can’t put timelines and sometimes extraditions by their nature become a protracted legal process. We should not expect that the people of interest will board the first plane to South Africa tomorrow morning, because there are still legal processes that needs to be followed.
“We expect that there will be maximum co-operation from the UAE and from ourselves to ensure that we comply with the rule of law.”