The Guptas are deeply involved in allegations of corruption during the tenure of former South African President Jacob Zuma. The brothers and their families left South Africa for the UAE when Zuma stepped down in 2018.
Dubai Police confirmed on Tuesday that they had arrested the couple on June 2, calling them “among the most wanted suspects in South Africa.”
Both Zuma and Gupta, through their lawyer, repeatedly denied the allegations.
Interpol, which is currently led by UAE Police Chief General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi following his election last year, issued a warning to Gupta earlier this year regarding allegations of fraud and money laundering.
Extradition is a complex process, South Africa’s National Attorney’s Office told CNN on Tuesday, but officials are interacting with relevant authorities in South Africa and the UAE.
The Dubai Police said in a press release that they are coordinating with the South African authorities regarding an “extradition file to complete legal procedures.”
South Africa ratified extradition treaties with the UAE last June, according to the Department of Justice and Corrections.
The Gupta and their co-conspirators were also sanctioned by the US Treasury Department as a major corruption ring and for using their “political connections for widespread corruption and bribery, seizure of government contracts, and misappropriation of government assets”.
South Africans heard details of some of the allegations during several months of testimony in a bribery investigation known as the Zondo Commission.
Details of the alleged corruption were first exposed in November 2016 when the South African Public Defender released a 355-page State of Capture report.
It contains allegations, and in some cases evidence, of nepotism, dubious business deals and ministerial appointments, and other possible large-scale instances of corruption at the very top of government.
UAE fights financial corruption
Gupta’s arrest is the second high-profile arrest linked to alleged financial corruption in the UAE in a week, following Friday’s arrest of 52-year-old hedge fund trader Sanjay Shah, who is wanted on charges of fraud and money laundering. in Denmark. The Shah maintains his innocence.
With its open business environment, international banking and international transportation hub, the UAE, especially Dubai, often attracts wealthy investors looking to increase their wealth.
However, it has also often been easy for illicit actors to launder money through sectors of the country’s economy, according to a US State Department report on global money laundering.
A report published in March highlights gaps in the UAE’s regulatory oversight to allow money laundering through banks, multiple exchange offices and conventional trading companies.
The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), an intergovernmental watchdog organization, said in March that the UAE would be added to a list of countries subject to enhanced monitoring of strategic weaknesses in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.
In response, the UAE said it intends to “accelerate the pace” of a national action plan to address weaknesses and will work with the FATF to combat financial crime.
“This file represents a strategic priority for the country,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said in March.