Guptas to apply for leave to appeal aircraft ruling

Members of the Gupta family are on Thursday expected to apply for leave to appeal a ruling handed down in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg which ordered them to return a luxury aircraft that they were leasing.

The interim order was handed down by Judge Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane on March 19.

The Guptas lodged the application on March 23, a few days after the ruling.

Kathree-Setiloane’s order gave the Guptas 15 days to ensure that the aircraft, a luxury Bombardier Global 6000 business jet, is returned and held in a hangar at the Lanseria International Airport.

The company that owns the aircraft, Stoneriver, and Export Developments Canada (EDC), which financed the aircraft, had filed an urgent application to have Gupta-owned business Westdawn Investments Pty Ltd return the aircraft.

Oakbay Investments, another Gupta-owned entity, was the corporate guarantor for the aircraft, while Atul Gupta and his wife, Chetali Gupta, were the personal guarantors.

Stoneriver stated in the application that between October and December 2017, there had been a number of breaches of the lease agreement, and the company had terminated the agreement with Westdawn on December 13.

Stoneriver then instructed Westdawn to return the aircraft.

Westdawn refused, and challenged the notice to cancel the lease in the UK courts, leading Stoneriver and EDC to approach the South African courts to grant an interim order to have the plane grounded and stored until the matter was finalised in the English courts.

Kathree-Setiloane ordered that, pending the final determination of the case before the High Court of Justice (England and Wales), Westdawn had 15 days to return the aircraft, together with all equipment and additions, to Stoneriver and EDC, at Lanseria airport.

She said neither Westdawn, Oakbay nor the Guptas were allowed to use the aircraft, except for the purposes of returning it, and that Stoneriver and EDC were to keep the aircraft and maintain it, until the outcome of the overseas case.

Kathree-Setiloane also ordered that should they fail to comply, the South African Civil Aviation Authority would be instructed to cancel the aircraft’s registration with immediate effect, for the duration of the interim order. DM


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