Lamola in talks with Interpol as Guptas’ whereabouts unknown

Justice and and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola. Picture: GCIS

Justice and and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola. Picture: GCIS

Published Nov 10, 2023


Justice and and Correctional Services Minister Ronald Lamola’s department said they were in close contact with Interpol over the whereabouts of Rajesh and Atul Gupta after authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had not been able to confirm whether the brothers are still in the country.

Lamola told Parliament this week that ongoing diplomatic talks were being held, which included his visit to the UAE in April.

“The authorities in UAE are obliged to charge, for money laundering; they have not yet charged or indicated if they will charge. I also asked them about their whereabouts, and they said they didn’t know and were not aware. But in line with international law, the last position of the sighting is the site they are supposed to be requested from.”

Interpol last year placed Rajesh and Atul Gupta on its most-wanted list, its Red Notice, and the brothers were then taken into custody in the UAE.

The brothers are wanted in South Africa for allegedly looting billions linked to State Capture.

However, they were set free in February after a failed extradition attempt from the UAE, with the court saying that on the charge of money laundering, the crime in question was alleged to have been committed in the UAE.

The court also found, on the charge of fraud, that the arrest warrant relating to this charge was cancelled.

As soon as the court made its decision, reports emerged suggesting that the brothers had sought sanctuary or asylum in Vanuatu, Switzerland, the Central African Republic and Cameroon.

Lamola’s spokesperson Chrispin Phiri said the Red Notice remained active and Interpol was obliged to notify South Africa if the brothers had left the UAE.

“If they exit and go to another country within the jurisdiction of Interpol, then they have an obligation to track the Red Notice and notify us.”

Phiri said prosecutors from the National Prosecuting Authority were scheduled to meet their counterparts from the UAE to raise questions on why the Guptas have not been charged for money laundering.

“Our prosecutors also have questions about why the previous application failed, and it is only right that South Africa gets an answer to this before we can resubmit the extradition request with new and additional documentation,” Phiri said.

International relations expert Dr Noluthando Phungula from the University of KwaZulu-Natal said the South African government has no basic information on the Gupta case.

“This raises the question of whether in reality the UAE is interested in working with South Africa or are they merely stringing the country along.”

Phungula said the Red Notice would allow police in any country to capture and arrest the brothers, while there had been talk of a new extradition application as the appeal window had closed.

“For me, this option is pointless if indeed the South African government has not been furnished with reasons for the dismissal of the first application.”

Phungula said whether South Africa actually intends to have the Gupta brothers extradited needs to be considered.

“The reality is that their extradition has serious consequences for certain ANC members who may have been involved in their dealings. Such high-ranking members would not look forward to the brothers’ extradition.”

The Mercury