MINISTER OF JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES PROVIDES
AN UPDATE ON EXTRADITION REQUEST OF THE GUPTA FUGITIVES
Members of the media and the nation at large would recall that on 30th of March 2023 we issued a media statement to update the nation on our Extradition request to United Arab Emirates in relation to fugitives Mr Atul Gupta and Mr Rajesh Gupta.
In that statement we provided a brief update on the status of our request. We also raised a concern that South Africa has not been informed if there was Court appearance which is a standard practice in extradition hearings.
To this end we requested a meeting at both a Ministerial level and central authority level.
Detailed Timeline of Activities undertaken by South Africa related to the request
February 2022 Interpol Confirms Red Notices have been issued for the Gupta fugitives
June 2022, the United Arab Emirates inform South Africa and Interpol that Mr Atul Kumar Gupta and Mr 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 Department of Justice, and Constitutional Development, in his capacity as the Central Authority, wrote to His Excellency Addullah bin Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, the Minister of Justice in the UAE, as a follow up to the request.
October 2022, the Central Authority travelled to the UAE to meet with 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, at the request of the Central Authority the South African Embassy in Abu Dhabi directed a Note Verbale to the Ministry of Justice requesting to be informed regarding the current status of the extradition request. The Embassy has indicated that they are waiting for a formal response from the Ministry of Justice in the UAE.
February 2023, the Central Authority addressed a further letter to His Excellency Addullah bin Sultan bin Awad Al Nuaimi, referring to his previous correspondence and again requesting a written update on the extradition proceedings of Mr Rajesh Gupta and Mr Atul Gupta.
March 2023, the Central Authority requests for a meeting at the level of Central Authority and at a Ministerial level at the Unite Arab Emirates
6 April 2023, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services engages the Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates directly and advised that a Note Verbale from United Arab Emirates was received on S April 2023.
In the evening of the 6th of April 2023, we were provided 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 the 13 February 2023 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 United Arab Emirates extradition can be denied because the United Arab Emirates 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.
The reasons provided for denying our request are of a technical nature and fly in the face of the assurances given by Emirati authorities that our requests meet their requirements.
This approach is inconsistent with article 17 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, to which both nations 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.
We still intend to engage our counterparts as requested in March to ensure that the decision of the court is promptly appealed, in the recent past we are aware that Denmark has appealed and succeed in obtaining a extradition request.
We also engage with the view of devising a mechanism that enhances the levels co-operation to preserve the integrity our bilateral relations.