President Cyril Ramaphosa's government accused UAE of failing to co-operation on extradition of Guptas / Photo: AP

South Africa said Friday it had learnt with "shock and dismay" that the United Arab Emirates had rejected a request to extradite two brothers accused of orchestrating industrial-scale corruption.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola bluntly accused the UAE of "non-cooperation" after being informed late Thursday of a court ruling against extraditing tycoons Atul and Rajesh Gupta.

"We learnt with shock and dismay that the extradition hearing had been concluded in the Dubai Court on the 13 February 2023 and our extradition request was unsuccessful," Lamola said in a statement. He accused UAE of not co-operating saying such a "level of non-cooperation" was "highly unprecedented.''

But in the UAE, state media said there had been problems with South Africa's paperwork and the South African authorities had been briefed "at every step."

The two Guptas, along with a third brother, Ajay, built a sprawling business empire in South Africa over two decades after migrating from India.

Investigators say they colluded with former president Jacob Zuma to siphon off state assets under a system that, according to one estimate, cost several billion dollars. They fled the country in 2018 as pressure over the scandal began to mount.

Last year, South Africa and the UAE signed an extradition treaty, and later South Africa applied for Atul and Rajesh Gupta to be handed over after the pair were arrested in Duba.

South Africa's case centres on an alleged 25-million-rand ($1.6-million) fraud linked to an agricultural feasibility study.

Ajay Gupta has not been indicted in the case, but has been named in another embezzlement and corruption case.

South Africa said ''We still intend to engage our counterparts... to ensure that the decision of the court is promptly appealed.''

But the UAE refuted the accusation of blindsiding South Africa and said the extradition application was flawed.

The Gupta family had for long been accused of wielding enormous power in South Africa particularly during the administration of former president Jacob Zuma.

In the past the Guptas denied allegations of corruption and influencing the South African government.

TRT Afrika and agencies