Controversial businessman Zunaid Moti arrested in Germany
Controversial businessman Zunaid Moti was arrested in Germany earlier this week.
Lawyer Ulrich Roux released a statement on Saturday evening confirming the arrest, and that it followed a notice by Russian authorities.
Moti is accused of defrauding Russian citizen Alibek Issaev out of several million rand in an alleged bogus mining deal. The alleged incident took place in Lebanon in 2013.
He is also accused of stealing a rare R500-million pink diamond.
"Mr Moti was placed under provisional arrest by German authorities when he attempted to leave Germany through Munich airport on 19 August 2018," Roux said in Saturday's statement.
"His detention comes pursuant to a diffusion notice issued by Russian authorities on 24 January 2018, which notice has not been authorised and vetted by Interpol's general secretariat."
An Interpol "red notice" was previously issued for Moti.
However, he told the Financial Mail that he made representations to the Interpol office in France, to be removed from the list and that his friend and business associate, investigator Paul O'Sullivan helped with the matter. The Financial Mail report, which was published earlier this month, said he no longer appeared on Interpol's searchable database.
Roux said that since August 2017, Moti has been subject to a "litany of spurious and fraudulent claims" made by a member of the "Russian Mafia", who was currently living in Dubai.
He said there was a directive that all data on Moti on Interpol's system was to be blocked, but the Russian notice "circumvented" that.
"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's of substantial sums of money.
"Mr Moti's legal representatives in Germany, Russia and South Africa are raising questions about the validity and execution of the diffusion notice. The Regional High Court in Munich, Germany is expected to pronounce on the matter within the next few days."
Roux said Moti received official documents that there was no "red notice", and that his name was not included on searches of outstanding warrants.
"There are blatant parallels that can be drawn between this matter and the trumped-up charges laid against Mr Moti in Lebanon, a country to which Mr Moti has never ever been."
Planes, mines and conspiracy to commit murder
News24 reported in March that when President Cyril Ramaphosa landed in Botswana for his first official visit, he flew there in a private jet owned by the Moti Company.
The Moti company is also allegedly close to Zimbabwe's new president. In November last year, News24 reported that Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa had allegedly helped facilitate a chrome deal with Moti’s company, Africa Chrome Fields.
In March British peer Peter Hain was appointed as special adviser and ex-officio member of the board of the Moti group of companies.
In 2012, a case of armed robbery and conspiracy to commit murder against Moti was dismissed by the Brits Regional Court, in the North West.
O'Sullivan previously told News24 that his relationship with Moti, when that case was on-going, was "not pleasant".
"A court later threw out a case that was brought against him and over the years I have built respect for him and even consult for him now," O'Sullivan said at the time.
"Zunaid Moti is a successful businessman and people tend to prey on such successful business people. That is why I now consult for him and can analyse things. I am confident that he is not involved in any criminal activity."