JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – Canada’s export credit agency sought in a Johannesburg court on Friday to have a Bombardier luxury jet grounded, saying South Africa’s Gupta family had defaulted on repayments of the loan they used to acquire the plane.
The Gupta brothers are at the center of graft and influence-peddling allegations around former President Jacob Zuma, who was forced from office last month by the ruling ANC party. Zuma and the Guptas have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
“Export Development Canada (EDC), is petitioning the courts to ground the aircraft,” said Phil Taylor, a spokesman for the agency, which provides Canadian exporters with trade financing.
EDC wants the plane grounded until a legal dispute in the United Kingdom involving the EDC’s efforts to recover the aircraft is settled, he said.
Local news agency EWN reported that a lawyer representing EDC told the court the aircraft’s tracking device had been switched off, making it impossible to ascertain its location.
The proceedings were adjourned on Friday with judgment expected in a week or so, local media reported.
Ajay Gupta, one of the three brothers alleged to have had a corrupt relationship with Zuma, has been declared a “fugitive from justice” in South Africa and family representatives could not be reached for comment.
A South African lawmaker leading an investigation into accusations the Guptas used links with Zuma to win contracts said on Thursday he suspected prosecutors had delayed taking action over the case for political reasons.