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Hawks still determined to haul Guptas to SA to face charges

Ajay and Atul Gupta.
Ajay and Atul Gupta.

The Hawks have assured the country’s parliamentarians that they are continuing to work behind the scenes with Interpol regarding the extradition of the Guptas - from either India or Dubai - to ensure they face charges linked to state capture.

Hawks head Lieutenant General Godfrey Lebeya and police minister Bheki Cele made the remark in parliament where they were briefing the portfolio committee on police on the high profile cases they were probing.

MPs from opposition parties such as the DA and the EFF had earlier voiced unhappiness about the slow pace of the Hawks’ investigation into state capture‚ as well as investigations into allegations of corruption at Eskom‚ Transnet‚ VBS mutual bank and international retailer Steinhoff.

Despite pressure from opposition MPs to explain why the Guptas were not being extradited to face charges‚ Lebeya stuck to its guns.

He said he was not at liberty to provide reasons at this stage as they were still addressing the matter and was in cooperation with Interpol‚ through the department of justice‚ which is responsible for the implementation of extradition treaties.

"We're working closely with Interpol‚ that’s on a police-to-police arrangement. It's not part of the extradition treaty. The extradition is a slightly separate law.

"But on a police-to-police [arrangement] we're working closely with [Interpol]‚ which is why our counterpart will invite us to come into their country. But you still need mutual legal assistance when you move from one country to the other. So I can't explain deeper on this one because it's a live case which we're dealing with‚" said Lebeya‚ before Cele added that they did not want to bungle the matter.

"The thing of extradition falls under justice [department]. You will remember that sometimes it causes tension between the police and those that would be responsible during that particular time.

"We hope that it will be resolved and we'll stick to our side‚ which more on Interpol‚” he said.

The Hawks have previously stated that they won't immediately seek the extradition of the Guptas until the investigation against them was finalised.

Lebeya also told MPs that lack of technical capacity to independently conduct financial and forensic investigations had forced the Hawks‚ through the SA Reserve Bank and the National Treasury‚ to rope auditing firms such as Sizwe Ntsaluba Gobodo and Pricewaterhousecoopers to help with state capture investigations.

The fraud‚ money laundering and corruption cases‚ among others‚ include Transnet's R38-billion procurement of locomotives‚ suspicious transactions to the tune of R2.4-billion at Eskom and the controversial R284-million Estina dairy farm project in the Free State.

The Hawks have also prioritised its investigation into the allegations of corruption and fraud at VBS‚ amounting to just over R311-million.

Lebeya said its team of investigators met with Pricewaterhousecoopers last month and were preparing a statement.

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