South Africa said Friday it was on the cusp of finalising an extradition treaty with the United Arab Emirates, where three brothers accused of graft under former president Jacob Zuma are suspected to be living.
Justice Minister Ronald Lamola told an online news briefing that ratification of the deal will be finalised on July 10 and take effect a month after.
The treaty marks a key step in South Africa’s three-year-old bid to extradite the Guptas, who are at the centre of a corruption scandal that stained Zuma’s nine-year tenure.
The minister accused the UAE of dragging its feet.
The request could have been handled under a UN anti-corruption convention and without the need for an extradition accord, he said.
“Regrettably, we have to date not experienced the level of appreciation and cooperation which is required in terms of the convention in the fight against corruption,” he said.
The Indian-born trio — Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta — were close friends of Mr. Zuma.
They won lucrative contracts with state companies and were allegedly even allowed to choose cabinet ministers.
They fled South Africa shortly after a judicial commission tasked with investigating allegations of fraud known as “state capture” started in 2018.
Last week, South Africa’s prosecuting authority said it had asked Interpol to help with the execution of arrest warrants against two of the brothers and their wives for fraud and money laundering.
In 2019, the U.S. Treasury slapped sanctions on the family, effectively freezing their assets under U.S. jurisdiction and forbade Americans — particularly international banks with any U.S. operations — from transactions with them.