King Mswati III of Swaziland’s private luxury jet, impounded by a court in Canada in a dispute over alleged unpaid debts has been released after the Swazi Government paid US$3.5 million as a financial guarantee for the King.
The money was finally confirmed as deposited on 13 May 2015 after nearly a month of wrangling. It has not been independently verified but it has been reported that the Swazi Government, which is broke, had trouble raising the necessary money, which is about E35 million in emalangeni, the Swazi local currency.
To put this sum into context, the European Union gives Swaziland about E20 million a year to pay school fees for all children in grade one at Swaziland’s 588primary schools, as part of the kingdom’s free primary education programme.
The plane is believed to have left Canada on Friday (15 May 2015).
The jet had been attached in Ontario, Canada, by a court since January 2015 in a dispute about unpaid bills for upgrades and modifications to the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 (also known as an MD-87).
A company called SG Air has taken Inchatsavane, a Swaziland-based company which is solely-owned by King Mswati III, to court in Canada alleging it owes US$3.5 million for the work done on the jet.
The jet was attached by the court in Ontario.
Attachment is a legal process by which a court of law, at the request of a person who is owed money, requires property owned by the person who owes the money to be transferred to the person who is owed the money, or sold for the benefit of the person who is owed the money.
The legal case has not finished, but the Ontario Court of Appeal said the jet could be released if Inchatsavane delivered a letter of credit for US$3.5 million which would be held in trust in a bank until the court case was concluded.
This guarantee would ensure that if SG Air won the case money would be available to pay the company the money it was owed.
The money has now been deposited. However, instead of coming from Inchatsavane or the King personally, it is understood the money was paid by Swaziland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. It this proves to be the case it would mean the people of Swaziland, rather than the King, who rules the kingdom as an absolute monarch, would be paying the King’s debt should he lose the court case.
The case of the unpaid debt returns to the Ontario Court of Appeal on 11 June 2015.
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