King Mswati III of Swaziland has lost another round in a long-running court dispute over an alleged unpaid bill of US$3.5 million for improvements and repairs to his private jet.
SG Air Leasing and SG Commodities Trading, two companies associated with businessman Shanmuga Rethenam, popularly known as Shan, have been chasing the King through courts in Canada and the British Virgin Islands for the money they allege is owed by the King and a company he solely owns called Inchatsavane.
At one time the King’s DC-9-87 private jet was impounded in Canada while courts decided on its future. The jet has since been released but the King was required to place US$3.5 million in a trust account in Canada pending the final decision of the court.
On 5 May 2016, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ordered that the money must remain in the trust account. It also ruled that King Mswati and Inchatsavane must not dispose of the aircraft until the matter is settled by the court.
On Sunday (15 May 2016), the Times Sunday, an independent newspaper in Swaziland, where King Msawti rules as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, reported the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini saying the DC-9-87 would not be sold.
The newspaper said the decision had been taken after a ‘due diligence process of business viability analysis’.
It added, ‘He said it was decided that the aircraft would make a lot of money being leased out to private clients in its customised state.’
The Swazi Government has already announced it will buy the King a A340-300 jet from China Airlines in Taiwan at a cost of about US$13 million.
Swaziland is presently in the grip of a drought and 300,000 of the population’s 1.3 million people are in need of food and other aid. The Swazi Government has appealed to the international community for financial assistance.
About seven in ten of the population live in abject poverty with incomes of less than US$2 a day.
SWAZI MPs ABOUT-TURN ON KING’S JET
MONEY FOR KING’S JET, BUT NOT DROUGHT