South African state corruption: Two top suspects arrested in UAE

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The South African government has announced the arrest of two high-profile suspects from the "notorious" Gupta family at the heart of a massive state corruption scandal involving former South African President Jacob Zuma.

"The Department of Justice and Correctional Services confirms that it has received information from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities that fugitives Rajesh and Atul Gupta have been arrested," the South African justice ministry said in a statement on Monday.

Authorities in both countries are discussing the procedure to be followed, the department said, adding, "The South African government will continue to cooperate with the UAE".

The arrest of Atul and Rajesh Gupta, who had lived for years in the sheikhdom, was the latest major extradition arrest by authorities in the United Arab Emirates.

South Africa is seeking to bring to justice the three Indian-origin brothers and businessmen, Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, accused of looting public resources during the Zuma era (2009-2018). An Interpol international wanted person notice was issued in July against Atul and Rajesh Gupta.

A damning report published in 2016 detailed how the siblings, who are close to Mr Zuma, won lucrative public contracts and participated in the management of state affairs, including the appointment of ministers.

The Gupta brothers fled South Africa shortly after a commission was set up in 2018 to investigate widespread corruption during Zuma's nine years in power.

The cases contributed to Zuma's downfall and he was forced to resign. Sentenced to jail in July for contempt of court and now on conditional release for health reasons, his corruption trial is still ongoing.

An April report of the anti-corruption commission of enquiry said that "it is clear that from the beginning of his first term in office, (former) President Zuma was prepared to do whatever the Guptas wanted him to do for them".

Jacob Zuma's successor, current president Cyril Ramaphosa, has made the fight against corruption his main focus. But he himself is facing a credibility crisis.

Last week, a former senior official of South Africa filed an official complaint of "kidnapping" and "corruption" against President Ramaphosa which he has denied.

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