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SAfrica hears bid to ground graft-accused family's jet

AFP  |  Johannesburg 

went to court in today to ground a private jet used by the Indian-born business family which has been accused of corruptly influencing former

(EDC), the country's state-run trade credit agency, alleges the controversial family's businesses defaulted on a $41 million loan for the 6000 which subsequently disappeared.

The Canadian-built aircraft's was deactivated on February 4, the court heard.

"As we sit today, my client cannot tell where the aircraft is," EDC's told the in

EDC is now petitioning for the aircraft to be grounded, wherever it is located, until a bid to have the plane seized can be heard in an

"All my clients want is for the aircraft to sit in a hangar somewhere so it can't be flown to or or somewhere," said Cockrell.

EDC doesn't "want to sell this aircraft in the interim period, they just want the aircraft to be put in a safe place where it can be stored and where it cannot be used by the Guptas."

Cockrell added that grounding the aircraft would not be an inconvenience for the Guptas as they would be able to charter another jet or fly first class.

Guptas, one of South Africa's wealthiest business families, are facing police investigations in the country over alleged corruption as well as their links to former Jacob Zuma, who resigned following several graft scandals.

Cockrell said EDC feared "damage to the aircraft", "reputational harm" and that "the aircraft may be forfeited because it is the proceeds of crime".

has launched several investigations into the family and Indian tax officials this week raided several properties belonging to the brothers in their former home town as part of a money laundering probe.

Last month, South African authorities also raided properties in as part of the ongoing investigation into alleged graft.

One of the three Gupta brothers, Ajay, was declared a "fugitive from justice" by police after he failed to respond to a summons.

Thirteen other people are facing charges linked to allegations that millions of dollars of public money meant for poor South African dairy farmers was embezzled by the Guptas.

They are also accused of receiving highly favourable government contracts during Zuma's presidency.

Led by Atul, the Guptas arrived in in 1993 as white-minority apartheid rule crumbled, a year before won the country's first

The case was adjourned for lunch and will resume Friday afternoon.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 09 2018. 17:45 IST