It was reported on Saturday that controversial SA businessman Zunaid Moti, known for his close ties to Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, is currently locked up in a prison in Munich, Germany after being arrested last weekend on the strength of an Interpol warrant.
The regional high court in Munich is expected to deliver a verdict regarding Moti’s fate this week.
According to Moti’s lawyer, Ulrich Roux, the Russian mob is behind the Interpol warrant that led to his arrest. Roux says that false claims were made by members of the Russian mafia in an attempt to extort him.
His client is “subject to a litany of spurious and fraudulent claims made by a known member of the Russian mafia, who lives in Dubai,” Roux said.
“The alleged charges that form the basis of the diffusion notice are evidently a complete fabrication and part of a continued stratagem adopted by the Russian mafia to extort payment by Mr Moti of substantial sums of money,” Roux continued.
The “known member of the Russian mafia” is likely a reference to Moti’s former business partner, Russian businessman Alibek Issaev.
Issaev has accused Moti, alongside his father Abbas Moti and their associates Ashruf Kaka and Salim Bobat of defrauding him in a mining deal that took place in 2013 in Lebanon.
Moti could face extradition to Russia to face criminal charges. His arrest was the result of a “red notice” issued by Interpol last year.
“His detention comes pursuant to a diffusion notice issued by Russian authorities on January 24, 2018, which notice has not been authorised and vetted by Interpol’s general secretariat,” according to Roux.
Roux added that lawyers in Germany, Russia and South Africa were “raising questions about the validity and execution of the diffusion notice” on Moti’s behalf.
Moti has interests in mining, finance, and logistics in South Africa and Zimbabwe, and counts the likes of British peer Peter Hain as his friends.
Moti has consistently denied Issaev’s accusations.
He says he was never in Lebanon and claims that Issaev instead stole intellectual property and a R500 million pink diamond from him. The other two business associates are Ashruf Kaka and Salim Bobat.
On Saturday it was reported that Abbas said he had contacted South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, with whom he claims to have “a good relationship”, to help his son, but was told by Ramaphosa that his “hands are tied”.
“As far as we are aware the German authorities are to hold Zunaid for 40 days while the arrangements for his extradition to Russia are made,” said Abbas.
Headquartered in Sandton. The Moti Group has a relationship with Rustenburg Platinum, a subsidiary of Anglo Platinum, as well as a long-term relationship with Glencore regarding chrome beneficiation.
The company also has a chrome beneficiation operation in Zimbabwe called African Chrome Fields. Other interests include aviation, property development, and security services.