06/03/2018 14:03 SAST | Updated 06/03/2018 14:04 SAST

Application To Ground Gupta-Owned Aircraft Postponed

The matter was referred to Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo for a special allocation.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The application by a Canadian bank to ground a Gupta-owned aeroplane has been postponed till Friday.

The High Court in Johannesburg was due to hear the urgent application by Export Development Canada (EDC) – the country's state-owned export-import bank – to ground a plane being used by the Gupta family.

However, the matter was referred to Deputy Judge President Phineas Mojapelo for a special allocation, and it is now expected to be heard on Friday.

It was reported at the weekend that the Gupta family had defaulted on a $41-million (~R482-million) loan taken out to buy the jet, and EDC believes the plane might now be used to evade justice or for other unlawful activities.

News24 reported in February that the Bombardier Global 6000 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 EDC said 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 percent of the finance 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, it was 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 Free State was also put under curatorship by the High Court in Bloemfontein in January.

News24 reported at the time that the order revealed that Free State's department of agriculture – 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".