South Africa has been left disappointed after the United Arab Emirates (UAE) denied its request for the extradition of the Gupta brothers, Atul Gupta and Rajesh Gupta. The brothers stand accused of corruption and state capture in South Africa.
Response to the Denial
The news of the denial of the extradition request has been met with “shock and dismay” by Ronald Lamola, the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. The decision goes against the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and South Africa has announced its intention to appeal.
Extradition Hearing and Court Decision
The extradition hearing concluded on 13 February 2023, with the court finding that the crime of money laundering was alleged to have taken place in both the UAE and South Africa. Following the Federal laws of the UAE, extradition can be denied because the UAE has jurisdiction to prosecute the crime. Additionally, the arrest warrant relating to the charge of fraud was canceled.
Concerns Raised by the Department of Correctional Services
Before the court’s decision was announced, the Department of Correctional Services raised concerns about needing to be informed of a court appearance, which is standard practice in extradition hearings. The Minister of Justice and Correctional Services requested a meeting at both Ministerial and central authority levels in response.
Inconsistencies with the United Nations Convention Against Corruption
Article 17 of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption requires state parties to clarify a specific matter before refusing an extradition request. The requested state party should consult with the requesting state party before refusal, according to the article. The reasons provided for denying South Africa’s request were technical and did not meet the requirements of the Emirati authorities.
South Africa’s Appeal and Diplomatic Engagement
South Africa intends to appeal the decision promptly and engage with the UAE to enhance the levels of cooperation to preserve the integrity of bilateral relations. Denmark has previously demanded and succeeded in obtaining an extradition request.
The denial of South Africa’s extradition request for the Gupta brothers has been a setback for the country’s efforts to combat corruption and state capture. However, the decision has also highlighted the need for greater cooperation and coordination between countries in addressing transnational crimes.