The South African government on Monday said that law enforcement authorities in the UAE have arrested Rajesh Gupta and Atul Gupta of the Gupta family.
It remains unclear why the third brother — Ajay — was not arrested.
The arrests came as an investigation was concluded into massive plundering of state institutions during former president Jacob Zuma’s era.
South Africa’s justice ministry “confirms that it has received information from law enforcement authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that fugitives of justice, namely, Rajesh and Atul Gupta have been arrested,” it said.
From Uttar Pradesh to South Africa
The three brothers came to South Africa from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh, in 1993.
Atul is believed to have set up the family business Sahara Computers after arriving in South Africa.
Gupta brothers and former South African President Jacob Zuma
The Gupta brothers are accused in South Africa of using their relationship with former president Jacob Zuma to profit financially and influence senior appointments, charges that they have vehemently denied.
According to a BBC report, the brothers met President Zuma when he was a guest at one of the Sahara group’s annual functions.
The family is believed to have gifted Zuma's wife a Pretoria mansion valued at 3.8 million rand. They have, however, denied this.
What are the accusations?
The Gupta brothers are allegedly at the centre of a corruption scandal that dogged Zuma’s nine-year administration until 2018. They were accused of paying bribes in exchange for lucrative state contracts and influence over ministerial appointments.
As per reports from BBC, in 2018, tax officials conducted raids in multiple cities at properties belonging to the Gupta brothers, including their company office in New Delhi.
Fleeing South Africa
An enquiry was established in 2018 to examine allegations of corruption during Zuma’s nine years in power from 2009, which was riddled with scandals, overshadowing his presidency.
The allegations levelled against him include that he allowed businessmen close to him – brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta – to influence policy and plunder state resources.
The family fled South Africa in 2018 when the net closed in on them as huge public protests eventually led to the ANC removing Zuma and appointing Cyril Ramaphosa as the Acting President.
The Gupta family went into self-exile in Dubai in 2018 after Jacob Zuma was ousted.
In April 2021, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's government ratified an extradition treaty with UAE hoping that it would lead to the return of the Guptas to face charges.