Newsdeck

Gupta jet lands in Moscow

By News24 7 February 2018

In Russia it would appear, if the flight radar of their private jet ZS-OAK is anything to go by. The Guptas may have had to fly commercial airlines for a month when their jet was apparently grounded over the festive season, but it wasn't long before their private wings were flying high again.

The Gupta family’s private jet, a Bombardier Global 6000 business aircraft registered as ZS-OAK, flew from Dubai to Zurich on December 13, where it remained for six days before taking a 36-minute hop 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.

It was widely reported in December that the Guptas had fallen behind in their scheduled repayments of a loan that financed ZS-OAK.

Soft loan

According to the Financial Mail, the Canadian government’s export credit agency, which provided a soft loan for 80% of the finance required 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.

Export Development Canada (EDC) provides finance to international customers to buy Canadian products.

The EDC, the paper said, had previously grounded the plane at Lanseria airport for 48 hours due to non-payment and that a bank provided the guarantee and the EDC released the aircraft.

The EDC loaned the family $41m to purchase their private jet. It was bought from controversial company Bombardier Aerospace in December 2014 and helped facilitate a loan between Gupta company Westdawn Investments and Bombadier Aerospace for the aircraft.

The EDC told the Daily Maverick in December they would be rescinding the loan and may be taking steps to repossess the aircraft should the brothers continue to miss payments and should they be unable to refinance.

And there the issue – and the jet – stayed until the aircraft took to the skies again on January 25 when it flew from Basel to Dubai.

While it isn’t clear who is using ZS-OAK, the end destinations of the flights indicate it is still in the possession of the Gupta brothers.

The plane has been flying backward and forward between India and Dubai, in a similar way that it was before its trip to Zurich in December.

Legal proceedings

According to flight radar applications the jet flew last on Tuesday from Dubai to New Delhi. Today it took off from India and flew to Moscow.

The Gupta brothers call both Dubai and India home.

The family originally come from Saharanpur in the Uttar Pradesh state in India. They still have many familial and business ties with their home country. And in Dubai Rajesh Gupta, also known as Tony, has permanently moved to the family’s R330m mansion there, not to mention all the shelf companies and bank accounts the brothers have in the flashy city.

The plane hasn’t been in SA for months and it isn’t clear if any of the Gupta family members are still in the country and if they have left, if they will ever return.

On Tuesday a group of security guards at the main gate of their mansion in Saxonwold refused to say if the Guptas were there or not.

It also isn’t clear if the Guptas were able to make a payment leading to the release of the aircraft but Phil Taylor from the EDC told News24 the legal proceedings they have against the Guptas are still proceeding.

“Our position has not changed,” said Taylor.

“The movement of the aircraft is not an indication of that process.” DM

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