The United Arab Emirates has ratified a 2018 extradition treaty with SA, its embassy in Pretoria said on Wednesday, a move that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government hopes will lead to the return of the Gupta brothers to face corruption charges.

SA signed the treaty with the UAE in late 2018, part of Ramaphosa’s effort to crack down on those accused of corruption and influence peddling under his predecessor, Jacob Zuma.

It was ratified in April, UAE’s embassy said in a statement.

The Gupta brothers — Atul, Ajay and Rajesh Gupta — are accused of using connections with Zuma to win contracts, misappropriate state assets, inappropriately influence cabinet appointments and siphon off billions of rand in state funds.

The Indian-born brothers, who have repeatedly denied wrongdoing, are believed to be in Dubai where they own property and businesses.

The UAE’s ambassador to SA, Mahash Alhameli, in the statement said “These agreements have been and remain key to the UAE in promoting judicial and legal co-operation with SA and strengthening bilateral relations between law enforcement institutions and partners on both sides”.

The statement added that the ratification was “aimed at preventing crime on the basis of mutual respect for the sovereignty of both countries, strengthening co-operation in combating serious crimes, including organised crime, and ensuring that criminals were not denied justice”.

The National Prosecution Authority (NPA) last week asked Interpol to put the Gupta brothers on their “red list”, an international notice issued for fugitives. Business people linked to the Guptas have also been arrested in recent months.

The NPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.