The Gupta brothers, accused of corruption in South Africa, are arrested in Dubai

JOHANNESBURG – Two Indian-born businessmen known simply as the Gupta brothers who rose to prominence in South Africa after being accused...


JOHANNESBURG – Two Indian-born businessmen known simply as the Gupta brotherswho rose to prominence in South Africa after being accused of facilitating public corruption and draining state resources, have been arrested in Dubai, the South African government has announced.

The arrests of Atul and Rajesh Gupta, announced on Monday and confirmed by Dubai a day later, came about four years after the brothers fled South Africa in the face of intense law enforcement scrutiny and public outrage. It marks an important moment in a years-long battle by government reformists and civil society to hold to account those allegedly responsible for “state capture” – the endemic corruption of officials and businesses that has contributed to South Africa’s economic malaise.

“It is extremely important” in symbolic terms, said Thulisile Madonsela, a former civil servant who laid much of the foundation exposing the Guptas’ relationship with government officials. “People were concerned that it appears there is only accountability for the small fish involved in the state catch, not the large fish.”

Ms Madonsela began investigating the questionable spending of public funds by former President Jacob Zuma about a decade ago when she was South Africa’s Public Protector, an independent official responsible for supporting democracy. This investigation revealed widespread government corruption and Mr. Zuma’s close ties to the Gupta brothers, who have been accused of appoint government ministers that would help their companies secure lucrative contracts.

According to an investigator who testified before a commission of inquiry into state corruption, the Guptas were able to obtain at least $3.2 billion in government business through an extensive network of companies. They have been accused of obtaining fraudulent contracts, laundering money and using their government connections to help other companies gain access to contracts in exchange for bribes.

“Arresting the prime suspects in the state capture saga and holding them to account for their alleged wrongdoings will restore hope to the people of South Africa that there is no law for those who have not money and another for those who have money,” said Madonsela.

Michael Hellens, an attorney for the Guptas, did not respond to messages seeking comment.

The brothers maintained that they had done nothing wrong and are victims of infighting within the ruling party, the African National Congress. The Guptas have not been found criminally responsible in the cases involving them which have so far been brought before South African courts.

There could be a long way to go between the arrest of the Gupta brothers in Dubai and their actual appearance in court in South Africa.

The governments of South Africa and Dubai entered into an extradition treaty Last year. While this sets a framework for the Guptas’ return to South Africa, it is unclear how quickly this would happen and whether the brothers could successfully fight this in court.

“Discussions between various law enforcement agencies in the UAE and South Africa on the way forward are ongoing,” said Chrispin Phiri, spokesman for the South African Department of Justice, in a press release.

In February, Interpol has issued a “red notice” for the two Gupta brothers, a request for detention pending extradition. Dubai Police said in a statement posted on Twitter on Tuesday that they had arrested the brothers after receiving the notice, which related to allegations that a company run by an associate of the Guptas had acquired a fraudulent $1.6 million contract from the Free State province in South Africa. South for a rural agriculture project there.

Mark Heywood, a social justice activist in South Africa, helped several years ago obtain a trove of Gupta-related emails that were widely published in South African media and led to numerous stories exposing corruption allegations against the family.

Mr. Heywood, who now edits Maverick Citizenthe social justice arm of a South African news agency, said the arrest of the Guptas, along with other recent arrests of those involved in corruption, allayed some public concerns that no one would be held accountable of state capture.

“That suggests the pendulum has swung a bit,” he said. “We have to make sure it wobbles all the way.”



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Newsrust - US Top News: The Gupta brothers, accused of corruption in South Africa, are arrested in Dubai
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