Justice minister working on extradition deal for Guptas
THE authorities are closing in on the Guptas, with the Minister of Justice, Michael Masutha, tying up some loose ends on an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to bring the controversial family back to the country.
Masutha told the media in Parliament yesterday that the arrests of the Guptas, who are in Dubai, could happen once the deal with the UAE had been sealed.
This comes after Ajay Gupta was spotted in India and seen in an interview denying any wrongdoing with respect to state capture.
In a video played by eNCA yesterday, he laughed off allegations that he was a fugitive from the law in South Africa, that the Indian government was investigating the family, and that he faces criminal charges here.
“I am sitting in India at this moment and there is no allegation that I know,” he said, adding that he was attending a religious festival in his home country.
This is the same event being attended by his nephew, Varun Gupta, who was granted permission by the Bloemfontein High Court last week to travel to India. Varun is one of the seven accused in the Estina dairy farm project.
Masutha said they were expecting to conclude the extradition treaty soon, and that the ambassador to the UAE was keen to see the matter finalised.
“On the Guptas question, a few weeks ago I met with the ambassador of the UAE to discuss the need for this (and) to discuss the speeding up of the Mutual Legal Assistance agreement and extradition, where he expressed the desire that we put in place the co-operation, because of a number of South Africans who are there in the UAE,” said Masutha.
Currently, South Africa has no extradition treaty with the UAE.
The Guptas and Duduzane Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s son, are in Dubai after they left the country in February.
This was before the inquiry into Eskom in Parliament subpoenaed them and also shortly before the raid at the Guptas’ home in Saxonwold, Johannesburg, where the Asset Forfeiture Unit attached some of the family’s properties.
Masutha said he would not intervene at this stage, as he was in touch with the National Prosecuting Authority concerning their work in the matter. The NPA has been working with the SAPS, the Hawks and other law enforcement agencies on these investigations.
Hawks spokesperson Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed to The Mercury that the case against the Gupta family was still open and being investigated, while Ajay Gupta was still classified a fugitive from the law.
“He can go and scream from the top of Table Mountain that there are no allegations and investigations into him and his family, but we are the only competent authority that can make that proclamation.
“His warrant of arrest is still active,” Mulaudzi said.
He said this reaction and comments from Ajay Gupta was a “strategy” by the Gupta family to uncover the details of the Hawks’ investigation via the media.
“They want us to open our books, so to speak, to the media so they can derive their plan to avoid investigation and possible prosecution here,” he said.
Mulaudzi said that lawyers representing the Gupta family had approached a Bloemfontein court last week to force the Hawks to hand over the warrants of arrest to them. However, they had failed in their efforts.
“We don’t deal with lawyers, we deal with the suspects. The warrant is not (in) the lawyers’ names, so we will not release it to them,” Mulaudzi said.