Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2000-10-04 Reporter: Sapa Editor:

Baqwa Wants Joint Probe of R32bn Arms Deal 

Publication  Independent Online
Date 2000-10-04
Reporter Sapa
Web Link

Public Protector Selby Baqwa wants an indaba with the auditor-general, the Heath unit and the investigating directorate: serious economic offences, to co-ordinate investigations into the controversial R32-billion arms deal.

A spokesman for the public protector's office confirmed on Tuesday that Baqwa hoped the meeting would take place next month.

Auditor-General Shauket Fakie, in his report tabled two weeks ago, highlighted material deviations from generally accepted procurement practice.

He also recommended a forensic audit into the deal's subcontracts, which fell outside the scope of his probe and which have been the subject of repeated corruption claims.

Heath unit also expected to apply to launch a formal probe The report will be discussed by parliament's watchdog, the public accounts committee, on October 11.

The committee was also petitioned on Monday by critics of the arms deal, who have implicated African National Congress politicians and their associates in alleged corruption.

In a letter to the committee, Terry Crawford-Browne of Economists Allied for Arms Reduction named some of  the alleged beneficiaries, claiming they were party "to a massive international swindle".

The Heath anti-corruption unit is also expected to apply for a presidential proclamation to launch a formal probe. It put its investigation on hold pending the auditor-general's report.

Meanwhile, a Cape Town businessman will keep a close eye on the investigations as he decides whether or not to sue the government for damages.

Young had investigated the matter for 18 months.

According to the managing director of CCII Systems, Dr Richard Young, his company was identified by the SA Navy as the preferred supplier for the information management system for the four corvettes.

However, the IMS was subsequently deselected by the Project Control Board, chaired by Chippy Shaik, after assertions of risk by African Defence Systems, owned by French weapons manufacturer Thomson-CSF.

It was eventually replaced with a product of Detexis, a subsidiary of Thomson's.

According to media reports, Shaik's brother, Shabir, is a director of ADS, which also employs Chippy Shaik's wife.

Young said: "We are a small company taking on the might of the government, of ADS and of Thomson - the third biggest defence company in the world.

"So, it would be a great help to me if some sort of forensic audit or special investigation was undertaken and I could use that without initiating everything on my own."

Young said it was also difficult to accept that a national asset like the navy should have to accept the inferior product of a foreign company.

"This is not my own opinion, but a conclusion of the SA Navy's own technical investigation into this matter."

Young said he had investigated the matter for 18 months and had incontrovertible proof of irregular acquisition practices. He had forwarded the evidence to the auditor-general, the Heath unit and, lately, to Mr Baqwa.

"If the process doesn't go through on its own, I will have little alternative, but to go to court myself, although this is something I have tried to avoid for over a year." - Sapa

With acknowledgement to Sapa and Independent Online.