Gupta companies square off in court over money spat

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The High Court in Pretoria on Wednesday heard arguments in a case between Gupta-owned companies, where Oakbay - the family's holding company - is seeking an order to have Tegeta Exploration and Resources's business rescue practitioners removed. 

Oakbay owns 29% of Tegeta, which operates Optimum Coal Mine, Optimum Coal Terminal and Koornfontein - all of which are under business rescue.

The troubled mining firm, which once had a contract to supply Eskom with coal, is also seeking a liquidation order against Oakbay, due to unpaid debt.

In September, business rescue practitioners - appointed to rescue Tegeta Exploration and Resources - lodged a court application to have the Guptas' Oakbay Investments liquidated. This stems from a claim that Oakbay owes Tegeta about R2.4m in unpaid rent.

Oakbay is disputing the rental claim on numerous grounds, including that the agreement between the parties was cancelled in September 2018.

Oakbay argued before Judge Sulet Potterill that the Tegeta application "is an abuse of process", sparked by ulterior motives, as there are other remedies to deal with the alleged claim.

The company submitted that the application should be put aside pending the arbitration process. 

"It is a well known principle that the winding up process ought not to be resorted to in order to enforce payment of debt....the procedure for winding up is not designed for the resolution of disputes, as to the existence or non existence of a debt." 

Judgment was reserved.

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