South Africa’s High Court ruled a luxury jet leased by the Gupta family, friends of ousted president Jacob Zuma, should be grounded after the Canadian credit agency that financed the lease cancelled its loan to the Guptas.
Three Gupta brothers are at the centre of graft and influence-peddling allegations surrounding Zuma, forced from office last month by the ruling African National Congress.
Zuma and the Guptas, whose relationship will be the focus of a corruption inquiry led by a top South African judge, deny any wrongdoing.
Canadian export credit agency EDC, which supports Canadian firms doing business abroad, lent a Gupta company $41 million in 2015 to lease the Bombardier jet.
It cancelled that loan agreement last year after the Guptas missed repayments. EDC applied to a South African court to have the jet grounded.
A registrar at the High Court said it ruled the Bombardier jet should be stored at Lanseria airport pending the outcome of a legal dispute in Britain, where the Guptas are challenging EDC’s cancellation of the loan agreement.
The Guptas, officials from their companies and their family representatives could not be reached for comment.
The exact whereabouts of the Gupta brothers and the Bombardier jet are not publicly known after the tracking device on the jet was switched off.
Ajay Gupta has been declared a “fugitive from justice” and is known to have left South Africa for Dubai in February.
Phil Taylor, spokesman for the Canadian firm, said it was “pleased with the favourable ruling and expects an orderly handover of the aircraft pursuant to the court order.”