The jet that apparently brought the Gupta family and guests to the Waterkloof Air Force Base for a family wedding is at the centre of a dispute being waged in the high court in Joburg.Picture: Phill Magakoe
Johannesburg - For advocate Alfred Cockerell it would be a win-win for not only his client Export Development Canada (EDC), but for the Gupta family too.

EDC would take the controversial Gupta jet off their hands, park it in a hangar and the family would not have to pay leasing fees.

“They can fly first-class to Dubai or charter a flight; it will be cheaper and no inconvenience to them,” Cockerell said.

But lawyers representing the Gupta brothers and their companies on Friday would have none of that. They were arguing in the high court in Joburg that this urgent application was not urgent and should be struck from the roll.

The EDC argued on Friday that they want the plane returned as a legal battle takes place in England over the termination of an agreement between the Guptas and EDC.

Cockerell said that his client was concerned that being associated with the family would harm their reputation. There was also a fear the plane could be damaged as the company now had no way of tracking it, since its tracking device was disabled in February. Another concern was the plane could end up confiscated by the asset forfeiture unit (AFU).

The EDC launched its urgent application to have the Bombardier Global 6 000 business aircraft grounded due to non-payment on February 15, the day after the Guptas’ Saxonwold compound was raided by the Hawks.

However, Owen Cook, who represents Gupta-linked companies, called the EDC's urgent application a “face-saving exercise” and that they had known about the family’s controversial reputation for a long time.

Cook also explained that the Guptas had switched off the tracking device on the plane so the ECD would not have the aircraft grounded.

Rafik Bhana, for Atul Gupta, said EDC was relying on untested allegations made in the ex parte application by national director of public prosecutions Shaun Abrahams in relation to the R220million allegedly stolen through the Estina dairy project.

“It is reckless to rely on untested allegations,” said Bhana.

Justice Fayeeza Kathree-Setiloane, reserving judgment, promised to deliver it in seven to 10 days.

Atul Gupta has won his court bid to have R10 million in his bank account unfrozen. File picture: Dumisani Sibeko

But this was not the only Gupta court-related appearance on Friday.

Judge Fouche Jordan on Friday agreed in the Bloemfontein High Court to unfreeze R10m belonging to the controversial businessman Atul Gupta.

The money had been frozen by the AFU, which suspected it was part of the R200m meant for the Vrede dairy project in the Free State.

“Legitimate money was mixed with proceeds of crime,” said Thato Ntimutse for the AFU in his arguments to court.

Michael Hellens, for the Gupta-owned companies, argued that the State was presenting new arguments as the facts raised by the State were “not part of the files submitted to court”.

Luc Spiller, appearing for the Bank of Baroda, said the State was contradicting itself by assuming the funds were proceeds of crime without substantive proof.

The judge ruled in favour of the Guptas.

Saturday Star