A South African registered Bombardier Global 6000 (MSN 9631 / ZS-OAK) that was originally thought to be missing, hidden from creditors, has resurfaced in Dubai.
The aircraft is reportedly owned by the Gupta family, members of which are currently embroiled in a corruption, money-laundering and fraud scandal and who are on the run from the South African police. The scandal, which compromised many South African cabinet ministers, public servants and the leadership of several state-owned enterprises led to the ousting of then-president Jacob Zuma from office.
Originally delivered in April 2015, the aircraft was financed 80% by Export Development Canada (EDC) which claims in court papers that the Gupta family defaulted on the loan in October 2017, and still owes the bank $27 million.
AMSTAT, the business aviation research company, says that the aircraft is owned by Westdawn Investments Pty Ltd, a Gupta company based in Midrand some 15 kilometres north of Johannesburg.
However, the aircraft was leased to Westdawn by Stoneriver MSN 9631 Aircraft Designated Activity Company, a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) registered in Ireland.
In court papers obtained by Corporate Jet Investor and dated February 15, EDC claims that Stoneriver failed to make a contractual quarterly payment on October 16, 2017.
EDC adds that by October 18, when the payment had still not been made, a notice was sent to Stoneriver telling it that a non-payment default had occurred, and that should the payment not be received by midnight on October 19, an event of default would occur.
In the event of default Stoneriver would have to contact Westdawn to notify it of the default and that it was terminating the lease of the aircraft.
Stoneriver sent the notice on October 20. Westdawn responded on October 27 saying that it had made the lease payment by the time the default notice was received on October 20.
EDC decided to withdraw the notice but contacted Stoneriver to request information and confirmations from Westdawn, which was well within the financier’s rights and set out in the original financing agreement. During November and December 2017 a number of further defaults occurred, including Westdawn not providing the requested information.
When the aircraft was delivered from Bombardier’s Montreal facility via Malta, the operator was entered as Execujet. In the court filing, Execujet says that it terminated its management of the aircraft in October 2017.
In a letter to EDC on October 5, 2017, Execujet said that, in the past, it had been on the receiving end of media scrutiny for its involvement with Westdawn Investments. “Due to recent events, we are no longer able to continue rendering the services under the aforementioned agreements for fear of attracting immense negative publicity and reputational damage.” That made sense – other international companies such as consultancy McKinsey have suffered while all major South African banks have ceased doing business with the Guptas and their companies.
The aircraft registration has been blocked from flight-tracking websites at the request of the owner.
During February 2018 the aircraft was seen in St Petersburg and Moscow.
Information obtained by Corporate Jet Investor shows that the aircraft flew from Dubai South Airport to Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport on March 3, returning to Dubai South on the evening of March 5.
In its court papers presented to the Johannesburg High Court, EDC has requested the South African civil aviation authority to cancel the aircraft’s registration, thereby effectively preventing the aircraft from flying or being sold.