The Guptas were deeply involved in corruption allegations during former South African president Jacob Zuma’s tenure. When Zuma resigned in 2018, the brothers and their families traveled to the UAE from South Africa.
Dubai police confirmed on Tuesday that they had arrested the couple on June 2, calling them “among South Africa’s most wanted suspects”.
Both Zuma and Gupta have repeatedly denied the allegations through their lawyers.
After being elected last year, Interpol, now led by the UAE police chief, General Ahmed Naser al-Raisi, issued a red notice to the Guptas earlier this year on charges of fraud and money laundering.
South Africa’s National Prosecution Authority told CNN on Tuesday that extradition is a complex process, but officials have contacted relevant authorities in South Africa and the UAE.
Dubai Police said in a press release that they are coordinating with authorities in South Africa to “file extradition to complete legal procedures”.
According to the Ministry of Justice and Correctional Services, South Africa approved extradition agreements with the UAE in June last year.
The Guptas and their associates are also sanctioned by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as a major corruption network and “for using their political connections to engage in widespread corruption and bribery, seizing government contracts, and misappropriating government assets.”
South Africans heard details of some of the allegations during months of testimony in a corruption investigation known as the “Zondo Commission”.
Details of the alleged corruption were first revealed in November 2016, when a 355-page “Status of Arrest” report was published by the South African Public Protector.
The dossier contains, in some cases, evidence of nepotism, dubious business deals and ministerial appointments, and other possible allegations of massive corruption at the very top of government.
UAE takes action against financial corruption
Guptas’s arrest marks the second high-profile arrest by the UAE in a week over alleged financial corruption, following the capture of 52-year-old hedge fund trader Sanjay Shah, wanted on fraud and money laundering charges, on Friday. in Denmark. The Shah maintains his innocence.
With an open business environment, the availability of global banks, and an international transport hub, the UAE’s emirates, especially Dubai, have often attracted wealthy investors looking to expand their fortunes.
But the US State Department said in a report on global money laundering that illegal actors also often find it easy to launder money through the country’s economic sectors.
The report, released in March, highlighted gaps in the UAE’s regulatory oversight, which allows laundering through banks, numerous exchange offices and general trading companies.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental observer, said in March that the UAE would be added to the list of countries subject to increased monitoring for strategic shortcomings in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
In response, the UAE said it would act to “accelerate the pace” of a national action plan to tackle shortfalls and work with the FATF to tackle financial crime.
“This dossier represents a strategic priority for the country,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said in March. Said.