Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Arms deal probe ‘cancelled’

Monday, 11 October 2010 20:46

JOHANNESBURG - The Hawks have scuttled all investigations into bribery and corruption in South Africa’s leg of the arms deal most closely linked to President Jacob Zuma and his inner circle.

Cape Town businessman Richard Young has been officially informed that Hawks boss Anwar Dramat cancelled investigations into the leg of the arms deal in which he, Young, was the complainant.

In November last year Young submitted a criminal complaint against former Defence Procurement boss Shamin “Chippy” Shaik, Thyssen TRT and companies closely associated with paying Shaik and Zuma bribes.

Repeated attempts to obtain detailed comment from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) were stonewalled, with the prosecutions body telling The Citizen to contact the Hawks as the NPA have has no investigative capacity.

The latest investigation into “Chippy” Shaik commenced started after Young laid charges with the police. Earlier probes into the arms deal had been initiated by the State itself.

Young himself confirmed the end of the investigation: “As the complainant in the matter I was officially contacted by Colonel Johan Du Plooy last week and informed that a decision had been made by Dramat who had handed an order in writing ... to cease the investigations. The reasons given to me were financial – and the supposed fact that the Germans were not willing to co-operate with the investigation.”

Young’s Cape Town company CCII Systems lost out on key arms deal contracts to a French company whose local representative, Schabir Shaik, was the brother of “Chippy” Shaik. Schabir Shaik was subsequently convicted of paying bribes to President Jacob Zuma.

In May this year, Menzi Simelane, the National Director of Public Prosecutions appeared before Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) and admitted that he had handed over all the arms deal investigations to the Police Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigations.

Last month the head of the DPCI – or Hawks – Anwar Dramat, told Scopa that his investigators were probing fraud and corruption to the value of R480 million. He also told Parliament he expected the probe could take another five years and cost up to R10 million.

He then asked Parliament to take an “executive decision” on whether it was in the “best interests of the country” to proceed with the investigations.

Dramat was slapped down by Scopa, who which refused to do so. Opposition MPs were critical of Dramat. Democratic Alliance member on Scopa, David Maynier, told Dramat that he: “needed a stiff dose of investigative Red Bull’.” Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille said Dramat was “out of order” for making the requesting that parliament scrap a criminal investigation. Inkatha Freedom Party representative on Scopa, Narend Singh, said that cost should not be a reason to scrap the probe. Singh told Dramat that spending R10 million to go after R480 million in bribes was a “good deal”. He suggested the assets of those who took bribes could be seized.

Asked to comment on the latest developments, Maynier said: “If it is true that the investigation into the arms deal has been shut down, then it is a complete travesty of justice. It was clear from last month’s presentation by General Anwar Dramat ... that there was very little appetite to pursue the investigation.

“The fact is that the arms deal corruption slick reaches all the way into the highest level of government, including President Jacob Zuma. There is no doubt that if there was a full investigation some very big political fish would be convicted and jailed.”

Young said that he questioned the claims that German investigators were not willing to co-operate. Last month The Citizen reported that the Hawks had confirmed being in possession of a document given to them by German investigators which seemed to be “smoking gun” evidence of Shaik’s corruption.

The document, given to the Hawks by German prosecutors reads in part: “The last trip (July 27 to 30, 1998) was suggested by C Shaikh (sic), director Defence Secretariat. During one of our meetings he asked once again for explicit confirmation that the verbal agreement made with him for payment to be made in case of success, to him and a group represented by him, in the amount of $3 million (about R21 million).”

Despite claims by the Hawks that the letter was not officially obtained – and therefore not of use in court – a top legal expert, Advocate Paul Hoffman SC, told The Citizen that the “Law of Best Evidence” allowed prosecutors to use the best available evidence – which could be a copy and not the original.

It was not clear whether the Hawks were proceeding with the other leg of the arms deal investigation – a probe into bribes paid by BAE Systems who paid large amounts to various politicians and officials in order to win the contracts to supply Hawk Jets and Gripen fighter aircraft.

At the time of going to press the Hawks’ Musa Zondi had not responded to The Citizen – as he undertook to do after receiving numerous many phone calls.

The Citizen

Comments by Sonny

The Hawks are just as good as the TRC!

Too many smoking guns in their hands!

The President will reward his disciples with Grace!

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