Inadequate evidence to revoke Gupta’s brothers’ Vanuatu Citizenship: Commission

(L-R) Former president Jacob Zuma, Atul Gupta and former Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kieviet.

Vanuatu’s Citizenship Commission has confirmed that corruption-accused fugitive Gupta brothers – Atul and Rajesh — are citizens of Vanuatu and there is inadequate evidence to cancel their Vanuatu citizenship certificates.

Chairman of the Citizenship Commission, Robin Kapapa, relayed this via a statement over the weekend, in response to Vanuatu Daily Post’s front page article titled “South Africa’s Wanted Fugitives now Vanuatu Citizens,” on 14 April 2023, saying the Gupta brothers are originally from India.

According to  Kapapa the eldest son is Atul Kumar Gupta, the second is Ajay Kumar Gupta and the youngest son is Rajesh Kumar Gupta and they are well known for their major businesses in South Africa.

He affirmed the Gupta brothers lodged their application to the Vanuatu Citizenship Office (VCO) in 2018.

Kapapa stated that in their application to the VCO, the Financial Intelligent Unit (FIU) confirmed that the Gupta brothers are under an ongoing investigation in South Africa on two criminal charges: money laundering and fraud; and corruption, but “they are innocent until proven guilty in court”.

The Chairman said after the VCO considered their application, it advised their local agent regarding the matter.

“The local agent reached out to the Gupta brothers and advised them to sign an undertaking to assure the Commission that they are innocent. In the undertaking content, it was clearly stated that if they are to be convicted, then the Commission could revoke their citizenship certificate. The brothers became citizen of Vanuatu in 2019,” Kapapa revealed.

The Chairman of the Commission noted that three years and four months after they became Vanuatu citizens, the Vanuatu Daily Post published that the Gupta brothers were wanted escapees from South Africa due to the two criminal charges.

Kapapa said this prompted the Commission to communicate through its networks and to gather information from several sources, including the court judgment from United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued in February 2023.

According to the Chairman, the judgement confirmed that the “Gupta brothers’ extradition request of the two criminal charges were not fulfilled”.

Firstly, he said, the money laundering and fraud criminal case was not fulfilled since the submitted documents should include a valid warrant of arrest, but the arrest warrant issued for the fraud case was cancelled.

Secondly, the corruption charge was not supported since documents submitted do not include any arrest warrant against the person to be extradited for the corruption crime as stipulated in the extradition request order.

“The Commission is reliably informed the South African authorities resubmitted new arrest warrants to the UAE authorities, however it appears the revelations were unacceptable to the court and has caused international embarrassment and abuse of process,” Chairman Kapapa stated.

He said in summary, the court has decided not to extradite Atul Kumar Gupta and Rajesh Kumar Gupta, Vanuatu nationals, to South African authorities.

“The Citizenship Commission would like to assure the citizens of Vanuatu that the Government has not taken the issue lightly, but has closely and continuously monitor the situation,” Chairman Kapapa stated. “Should there be a convicted judgement against the Gupta brothers, the Vanuatu Citizenship Office shall cancel their Citizenship certificates. At the present time, there is insufficient evidence to support the need for their citizenship to be cancelled,” he said.