An application by Export Development Canada (EDC), the country’s state-owned export-import bank to ground a plane being used by the Gupta family is expected to be heard in Johannesburg this week, the Washington Post reported.
Concerning Ajay Gupta being declared a fugitive, the EDC reportedly argued in its court papers that there was a concern that the aircraft may be used to escape justice or for some other unlawful means.
The family bought the aircraft with help from a $41-million loan from the EDC. They have reportedly defaulted on that loan.
The family’s lawyer Ahmed Gani declined to comment to News24 on the application, and the UK branch of law firm Jones Day, who are apparently representing the family in the case involving the jet, could not be immediately reached for comment.
News24 reported in February that the Bombardier Global 6 000 business aircraft registered as ZS-OAK, had landed in Russia. Following this, the plane could no longer be tracked on publicly accessible flight tracker websites and apps.
The plane previously flew from Dubai to Zurich on December 13, where it remained for six days before taking a 36-minute hop to EuroAirport Basel Mulhouse Freiburg in Switzerland.
There the plane stayed put for more than a month before taking to the skies again on January 25.
It was widely reported in December that the Guptas had fallen behind in their scheduled repayments on the loan from EDC that financed ZS-OAK, and that the plane was grounded.
It also isn’t clear if the Guptas were able to make a payment leading to the release of the aircraft, after that but Phil Taylor from the EDC told News24 at the time that the legal proceedings they have against the Guptas are still proceeding.
“Our position has not changed,” said Taylor.
News24 reported in February that the Hawks were searching for Ajay. It is believed he has left the country.
However, his brother Atul was in Dubai in February when he signed the affidavit that forms part of his application to have a preservation order obtained against him, by the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), set aside.
The Free State High Court in January put the Krynaauwslust farm near Vrede in the Free State under curatorship.
News24 reported at the time that the order reveals that the Free State’s agricultural department – under then agriculture MEC Mosebenzi Zwane – paid R220-million to the Guptas in what the AFU calls a “scheme designed to defraud and steal monies from the department”.