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EDC expresses regret for US$41M loan to back Bombardier sale to Zuma allies

Last Updated Aug 14, 2019 at 12:21 pm PDT

FILE - Former South African President Jacob Zuma, in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Friday, May 24, 2019. Zuma is in court facing charges of corruption, money laundering and racketeering. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe, Pool)

OTTAWA — Canada’s export credit agency says it regrets a 2015 decision to lend US$41 million to a South African company owned by members of a family with ties to former president Jacob Zuma.

Export Development Canada executive vice-president Carl Burlock says in the months and years that followed, the agency became increasingly concerned about the loan it provided to Westdawn Investments to backstop the sale of Bombardier aircraft.

Over that time, Burlock says in a statement, allegations related to corruption and political interference were mounting against members of the Gupta family, which owns the company.

He says EDC ended its business relationship with Westdawn in late 2017 and the company has responded by filing a lawsuit in the United Kingdom against the agency to contest the deal’s termination.

Burlock says the agency’s decision to support the purchase was in line with its international commitments under the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and that it relied on the fact there were no formal charges or active investigations related to the allegations.

Zuma resigned as South Africa’s president in 2018 after a near-decade-long tenure marked by persistent corruption allegations.

The Canadian Press