Ajay, front, and Atul Gupta. Picture: MARTIN RHODES
Ajay, front, and Atul Gupta. Picture: MARTIN RHODES

Co-operation between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and SA is limited to the Gupta brothers and not a broader extradition treaty, the justice ministry says.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha has been in discussions with the UAE regarding a mutual legal agreement.

"The minister is not negotiating an extradition treaty. He is negotiating the co-operation of the UAE with respect to making the Guptas available to the law enforcement agencies here [in SA]," justice ministry spokesman Mukoni Ratshitanga said on Thursday.

Earlier in 2018, the Hawks issued a warrant of arrest for family patriarch Ajay Gupta in relation to a corruption case.

It is believed that the warrant is in connection with money offered to former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, who claimed the Guptas offered him a R600m bribe and the position of finance minister in 2015.

The Guptas have been moving between India and Dubai.

In a telephonic interview‚ recorded on video and broadcast by television channel eNCA on Wednesday, a relaxed looking Ajay Gupta brushed aside allegations of wrongdoing, saying: "In my opinion‚ there is no allegation at all‚ in any part of the world‚ as I know."

He and other family members are reportedly in India, where a report said they would be embarking on a religious pilgrimage. Early in April, Ajay Gupta was spotted in Dubai by a South African businessman, who confronted him and filmed their brief encounter.

Ajay Gupta was still regarded as a fugitive, Hawks spokesman Hangwani Mulaudzi said.

"We are the only competent authority — that is the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] and the DPCI [Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation] — who can make a determination of whether there is a case to be answered or not.

"There is a warrant of arrest on a case of corruption and that case is waiting for him to come back so that he can come answer for his deeds."

A number of related investigations were continuing, Mulaudzi said.

Meanwhile, the High Court in Bloemfontein on Thursday heard an application by Gupta linked-companies and associates in the Estina dairy farm matter to have the most recent seizing of assets set aside.

In April, the Asset Forfeiture Unit moved to seize cars, aircraft and properties belonging to the Guptas and their associates. The possessions were allegedly bought with looted state funds.

In court papers, the Guptas said the state had no prospect of convicting them on any criminal charges linked to the Estina dairy project. Judgment was reserved in the matter.

quintalg@businesslive.co.za

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