Guptas get orders by Judge to ground Canadian-funded jet

Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane, a judge in Johannesburg  has ordered the controversial Gupta brothers, Atul, Ajay and Rajesh to ground their Canadian-financed luxury jet after Canada’s export agency expressed fears that the Bombardier plane could be used for criminal activities.


The Guptas are business tycoons who built a huge financial empire in South Africa after forming a partnership with Duduzane Zuma, a son of former president Jacob Zuma. There have been corruption allegations against them since 2010, including a government inquiry in 2013 and a detailed report by an independent ombudsperson in 2016, but they appeared to be protected from the law as long as Mr. Zuma was president.

The Guptas fled the country after Mr. Zuma lost power in the ruling party late last year.

The federal government’s export bank, Export Development Canada, provided US$41-million in financing to the Guptas in 2015 to help them purchase the US$52-million Bombardier jet.

But now the Guptas are fugitives from justice, evading South African arrest warrants on corruption charges, and the Canadian bank says it has no idea where the plane is located.

The export bank, EDC, has been criticized for making the loan to the Guptas at a time when corruption allegations against them had been widely reported.

The Canadian bank filed a court application in Johannesburg to ground the plane, arguing that the Guptas had violated the conditions of the loan. The bank said it urgently needed to “decouple” from the Guptas because of the risks to its reputation.

The Guptas have reportedly been flying the jet between Dubai, Russia and India in recent weeks, but EDC says the Guptas have switched off the public tracking device on the plane to make it impossible for the bank to know where it is.

The Canadian export bank welcomed the judge’s decision. “EDC is pleased with the favourable ruling and expects an orderly handover of the aircraft pursuant to the court order,” said EDC spokesman Phil Taylor.

The Guptas are expected to fight the court order, setting the stage for a prolonged legal battle. The Guptas can file an appeal against the order.