Interpol red notice for Gupta brothers lapses, South Africa's extradition request dismissed by UAE

Justice department 'shocked and dismayed' by UAE denying Gupta extradition request

07 April 2023 - 12:43
subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now
Atul (pictured) and Rajesh Gupta no longer have an Interpol red list notice attached to their names. File photo.
Atul (pictured) and Rajesh Gupta no longer have an Interpol red list notice attached to their names. File photo.
Image: Kevin Sutherland

The Gupta brothers Rajesh and Atul no longer have Interpol red notices attached to their names which would have paved the way for their arrest to face fraud and money laundering charges in South Africa.

This was revealed during a justice department media briefing on Friday, where minister Ronald Lamola announced the application to extradite the two “fugitives” from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had been unsuccessful.

A red notice is issued when a member country seeks assistance to locate and arrest an individual with the aim of having them extradited to face a criminal charge. 

Shamila Batohi, national director of public prosecutions, who was part of Friday's briefing, said: “The red notice lapsed once the warrants of arrest for the Guptas in the UAE were issued and executed. This means there will have to be applications for new red notices.”

Batohi said South Africa ticked all the boxes and did everything required to ensure a successful extradition.

“There's nothing more we could have done.”

TimesLIVE reported on Thursday that the supposedly detained Gupta brothers had been spotted in Switzerland.

A report by Bloomberg  said the pair were seen in the European country in late March despite the latest reports from the UAE that the brothers have been in custody since a failed bail bid in July 2022.

The publication attributed the Gupta sighting to online publication Africa Intelligence.

Lamola said he learnt with “shock and dismay” late on Thursday from the South African ambassador in the UAE that the extradition application was unsuccessful.

Last month, the ministry expressed frustration at the long wait for an update on the status of the application.  

Lamola had expressed his concern after a visit by the department’s central authority to the UAE to ensure the application met the requirements of the UAE authorities.

He told reporters on Friday: “On the evening of April 6 Thursday), we were provided a 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 February 13 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 UAE extradition can be denied because the UAE 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.”

Lamola said the reasons provided for denying the request “are of a technical nature and fly in the face of the assurances given by Emirati authorities that our requests meet their requirements”.

He said the UAE's approach is inconsistent with article 17 of the UN Convention Against Corruption, to which both countries 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',” said Lamola.

The minister said the court's decision will be appealed.

“In the recent past we are aware that Denmark has appealed and succeed in obtaining an extradition request.

“We also engage with the view of devising a mechanism that enhances the levels of co-operation to preserve the integrity of our bilateral relations.”

Batohi said South African authorities “are at the mercy of UAE authorities to ensure they do all things possible to assist the requesting state to ensure that the relevant legal processes are followed through” in terms of the appeal.

Timeline of activities undertaken by South Africa related to the extradition request

February 2022: Interpol confirms red notices have been issued for the Gupta brothers

June 2022: The United Arab Emirates informs South Africa and Interpol that Atul Kumar Gupta and r 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 justice department wrote to Addullah bin Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, the minister of justice in the UAE, as a follow-up to the request.

October 2022: Department officials travelled to the UAE to meet 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:  The embassy in Abu Dhabi directed a note verbale to the UAE ministry of justice requesting to be informed regarding the current status of the extradition request.

February 2023: The department addressed another letter to Addullah bin Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, again requesting a written update on the extradition proceedings of the Guptas

March 2023: The department requests  a meeting at the level of at a ministerial level at the UAE


Support independent journalism by subscribing to the Sunday Times. Just R20 for the first month.

subscribe Just R20 for the first month. Support independent journalism by subscribing to our digital news package.
Subscribe now

Would you like to comment on this article?
Sign up (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.