Court orders Guptas' jet to be grounded
The South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg ruled on Monday that a Bombadier Global 6000 aircraft, which the Gupta family was leasing, must be handed over to the applicants and stored at Lanseria Airport in Johannesburg.
The court also interdicted the family and its companies from using the aircraft.
Export Development Canada (EDC), which operates as an export credit agency, and Stoneriver brought the application against the Guptas over a lease agreement relating to the Bombadier jet valued at $41-million.
The Guptas have a lease agreement with EDC for the aircraft, registered as ZS-OAK, but are currently engaged in a court dispute in the UK over the agreement.
EDC had asked the court in South Africa to ground the plane, until a final order was made, and to prevent its movement while the tracking system was switched off.
It was reported earlier in March that the controversial Gupta family had defaulted on a $41-million loan for the jet, and EDC believed the plane might be used to evade justice or for other unlawful means.
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 flew from Dubai to Zurich on December 13, where it remained for six days, before undertaking a 36-minute journey 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.
Legal proceedings remain
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 were still proceeding.
“Our position has not changed,” Taylor said.
The EDC, which provided a soft loan for 80% of the finance required to buy the jet, had instituted legal action against the Guptas for defaulting on their payments and wanted to seize the aircraft to settle the outstanding debt.
EDC provides finance to international customers to buy Canadian products.
Last month, News24 reported that Ajay Gupta was a fugitive from justice, while his brother Atul signed an affidavit that formed part of his application to have a preservation order obtained against him by the NPA‘s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) set aside.
The Krynaauwslust farm near Vrede in the Free State was also put under curatorship by the Free State High Court in January.
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”. — News 24