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‘it’s Going to Be Hard to Get Them’ – Expert on Possible Gupta Extradition if They Get Car Asylum

According to reports, the Gupta brothers are considering seeking asylum in Cameroon and the Central African Republic (CAR).

The Gupta brothers Atul and Rajesh are reportedly considering seeking asylum in Cameroon and the Central African Republic (CAR) after South Africa’s failed bid to extradite them from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The possible choice of Cameroon and the CAR may be an attempt to avoid South African law enforcement agencies because South Africa has no extradition treaty with the two countries.

However, in the case of Cameroon, a Commonwealth nation like South Africa, there may be a small avenue to have them extradited. This is under the London Scheme on Extradition within the Commonwealth.

The London Scheme came into effect in 1966 and was amended by the Commonwealth in 2002.

Under the scheme “extradition is possible for offences punishable in both the requesting and requested state (the double criminality requirement) by imprisonment for two years or more”, reads an explainer by Peters & Peters, a United Kingdom-based law firm specialising in business crime, civil fraud, commercial litigation and regulatory work.

The Gupta brothers are wanted in South Africa on money laundering and fraud charges.

Cameroon follows an all-crimes approach to money laundering, meaning that the Gupta brothers could be liable for extradition to South Africa. This would be in accordance with the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which was signed on 10 October 2003, and ratified by Cameroonian President Paul Biya on 6 February 2006.

South Africa and Cameroon have good diplomatic relations.

International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor is in Yaoundé, Cameroon, for an official working visit that will end on Saturday.

Under the London Scheme, countries can “lower the standard of proof between themselves when the record of the case is sufficient to warrant a trial and extradition is not precluded by law.”

According to the ENACT Organised Crime Index for 2022, the central and east Africa region, of which the CAR forms part, has been rated as the worst in terms of corruption in Africa.

The Intergovernmental Agency on Development noted that extradition treaties and mutual legal assistance among neighbouring countries in the region were not taken seriously.

If the Gupta brothers were to be granted asylum in a country like that, it would be impossible to get them to stand trial in South Africa.

Economist and political scientist Stevenson Dlamini said:

Law enforcement in the poorest and most fragile states is weak, and [people can] survive on bribing authorities as long as they have the money. So, it’s going to be hard to get them if that’s the case.

The CAR is bordered by Congo-Kinshasa and Congo-Brazzaville in the south, Cameroon in the east, Chad in the north and Sudan in the east. All its neighbours are battling conflict from terrorists or insurgents. The CAR also has armed militias and takes in refugees from its neighbours.

The country will be holding elections later this year and already there’s a crackdown on civil society, the media and opposition political parties in the de facto one-party state.

In short, while avoiding the South African justice system, the Gupta brothers will be far from the luxuries of a functioning first world emirate like Dubai or the most advanced country in Africa if they were to seek asylum in the CAR.

Source: News 24