Atul and Rajesh Gupta, targeted by an international search warrant, were arrested in Dubai on Thursday following “criminal and money laundering charges”. Pretoria now has 60 days to request their referral to South African justice. The two countries signed an extradition agreement last year.

Then, “they should normally be presented to a judge in the Emirates who will have to rule on the extradition request,” former prosecutor Johan Du Toit told AFP.

This official request is a key step because the document must list the final charges against the suspects.

So far, the arrest warrant mentions a dubious public contract worth the equivalent of 1.5 million euros. A tiny part of the backlog of charges against the Gupta brothers.

The third brother, Ajay, is not concerned in this chapter but is cited in another case of embezzlement and corruption.

The sulphurous trio is accused of having infiltrated the top of the state, taking advantage of a long friendship with Jacob Zuma whom they bought with bribes throughout his two terms (2009-2018) . They methodically siphoned off the coffers of the country, looted public enterprises and extended their hold to influence the choice of ministers.

The duration of the extradition procedure is a matter for the legal system of the Emirates, but the South African prosecutor’s office has already warned of “a complex procedure”. Once back on South African soil, the accused will be able to appear in court.

– Riches suspects – 

According to a judicial source, two lawyers for the Gupta family have traveled to Dubai since the announcement of their arrest.

“These cases are never easy, especially when the suspects are wealthy and have the opportunity to hire the best specialist lawyers,” warns Gareth Newham, justice specialist at the Institute for Security Studies ( ISS) from Pretoria.

He believes that “years” could pass before seeing the Gupta brothers behind bars. The Emirates are regularly accused of serving as a refuge for dubious fortunes.

South Africa has been trying to get their hands on the wealthy and influential family of Indian origin for years. An explosive report had unveiled at the end of 2016 the extent of what was baptized in the country of “state capture”.

Lawsuits against the siblings are launched for theft, fraud and criminal association. The minimum sentence for fraud is fifteen years imprisonment and can go up to life imprisonment.

In 2018, an independent commission is responsible for investigating state corruption. The ANC then pushes Jacob Zuma to resign, the Guptas vanish into thin air.

According to this commission, whose conclusions are still awaited, “from the start of his first term, President Zuma was ready to do whatever the Gupta wanted”.

Repatriating the Guptas would be a coup for Jacob Zuma’s successor and current president, Cyril Ramaphosa. But the man who has promised to eradicate corruption, notably within the ANC, is himself in turmoil for a dark history of burglary, revealed last week, during which millions in cash were found in the one of its properties.

The ruling ANC must decide by December whether or not to present him for a second term.

“If people as powerful as the Guptas and Zuma can be prosecuted, a lot of people in the ANC right now can’t sleep on their two ears,” said political scientist William Gumede, who predicts more political attacks on the president. .