“DUBAI POLICE DENIES THE STORY ABOUT THE ARREST OF THE GUPTA BROTHERS,” reads the headline of a document circulating on Facebook and Twitter since early June 2022.
“The Dubai Police has noted the circulating news covered in major media outlets about the arrest of Atul and Rajesh Gupta, South African suspects wanted in connection to money laundering and criminal charges in South Africa,” the document reads.
It includes what seems to be the letterhead of the police force of Dubai, a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country in the Middle East.
“Dubai Police denies that we made arrest to said individuals, because they have not been in the jurisdiction of the UAE or Dubai since February 2020,” the document continues.
“The story of the alleged arrest is therefore ‘Fake News’,” it ends.
It was widely reported that Atul and Rajesh Gupta were arrested in Dubai on 6 June, “in connection with money laundering and criminal charges in South Africa”.
But did the city’s police issue a statement denying their arrest?
Gupta brothers fled to Dubai in 2018
Ajay, Atul and Rajesh Gupta, known as the Gupta brothers, are Indian-origin businessmen who owned a portfolio of companies in South Africa and held contracts with the government. They have been accused of influencing former South African president Jacob Zuma to make political and economic decisions in their business interests.
The relationship between the brothers and Zuma has been described as “state capture”.
After a 180-day commission of enquiry into the state capture claims, a 5,000 page report accused the Gupta brothers and government officials of wide-scale corruption. Atul and Rajesh Gupta fled South Africa for Dubai in 2018, when the calls for criminal investigations began.
At the time, the extradition treaty that would have allowed the brothers to be deported from Dubai to face charges in South Africa wasn’t in effect. But the UAE finally ratified the treaty in June 2021.
Interpol, the international police organisation, put out a red notice for the brothers in March 2022. A red notice is issued “for fugitives wanted either for prosecution or to serve a sentence” and requires member states to locate and arrest the people named in it, pending extradition or legal action.
News of arrest on Dubai Police’s social media accounts
The first clue that the document may not be genuine is its many grammar errors, such as “we made to arrest such individuals”. It also implies that Dubai and the UAE are two separate places.
And the document doesn’t appear anywhere on the official website, Facebook page or Twitter account of the Dubai Police.
Instead, there are official statements confirming that the brothers were arrested. On 7 June the Dubai Police tweeted: “The #DubaiPolice arrest brothers wanted by South African authorities for criminal and money laundering charges.”
The #DubaiPolice arrest brothers wanted by South African authorities for criminal and money laundering charges. pic.twitter.com/vIByqyvGqQ— Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) June 7, 2022
The tweet includes a statement that reads: “The Dubai Police have arrested Atul and Rajesh Gupta, among South Africa’s most wanted suspects, in connection with money laundering and criminal charges in South Africa.”
The statement was posted on the police’s Facebook page the same day.
Don’t believe everything you see on social media. The Dubai Police have not denied arresting the Gupta brothers. The Gupta brothers’ arrest was announced by the police on their official social media accounts.
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