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 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.
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.
The 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.
The family moved from India to South Africa in 1993. They also face accusations of money laundering in India, where tax officials raided properties belonging to them in 2018 in multiple cities, including their company office in capital Delhi.
Their arrests came almost a year after Interpol issued a red notice last July. Red notices are a global alert enabling law enforcement to arrest a person sought for prosecution or to serve a custodial sentence and detain them pending extradition.
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.
In July last year Interpol said they were being sought in connection with a 25 million rand ($1.6m) contract paid to a Gupta-linked company, Nulane Investment, to conduct an agricultural feasibility study.