Court hears application to ground Gupta plane

2018-03-09 16:07
The Gupta family’s Bombardier Global Express 6000. (Supplied via Netwerk24)

The Gupta family’s Bombardier Global Express 6000. (Supplied via Netwerk24)

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Johannesburg – A Canadian export and import bank has asked the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg to urgently ground a Gupta aircraft, after it disappeared off the radar.

Advocate for Export Development Canada (EDC), Alfred Cockrell, told the court that the plane had achieved "some notoriety" in recent weeks after its disappearance.

LIVE: Guptas switched off jet's tracking device 'for unlawful purposes' - lawyer

The Guptas have a lease agreement with EDC for the Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft, but are currently engaged in a legal dispute with EDC in the UK courts, over the agreement.

The company has asked the court to ground the plane until a final order is made to prevent it from continuing to move around with the tracking system switched off.

"Dubai seems to be a popular landing ground for the aircraft. And it has been in India, but we don't know where else it has been," Cockrell told the court on Friday.

He said EDC was concerned the aircraft might be used in further unlawful activities if it continued to be flown around the world without the tracking system activated. 

In their heads of argument, the applicants EDC and Stoneriver, which leased the aircraft to the Guptas, said the controversial family had breached their lease agreement in "multiple respects".

Also read: The Guptas and the high altitude hijack

"The applicants accepted the repudiation and terminated the leasing of the aircraft. The lawfulness of the termination forms the subject matter of proceedings that are currently pending in the English courts," the applicants said.

"The purpose of this application is to seek interim relief that will result in the aircraft being grounded and stored in a safe location pending the final determination of the English proceedings."

Cockrell told the court that "critically", EDC and Stoneriver were willing to bear the costs of grounding and storing the plane.

"All my clients want is for it to sit in a hangar somewhere. They don't want it to be flown to Dubai. They don't want it to be flown to India," he said.

Cockrell added that, as a result of recent developments in South Africa, including the closing of their bank accounts, the delisting of Oakbay from the JSE and the raid by the Hawks at the Gupta compound in Saxonwold in Johannesburg, his clients were concerned that the Gupta family might default on their loan.

"The allegations against the Guptas keep rising,"  he said.

EDC and Stoneriver were not only concerned that Guptas default on their loan, but also feared that the aircraft could be seized by the Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU) in its case against the family.

"The aircraft involves a very substantial amount of money. The risk to my client is substantial," he said.

The application continues and counsel for the Gupta family and their businesses are expected to respond later on Friday.

Read more on:    canada  |  johannesburg  |  courts  |  gupta family

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