Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2001-03-29 Reporter: Farouk Chothia,Taryn Lamberti andWyndham Hartley Editor:

Five More Face Investigation

Publication  Business Day
Date 2001-03-29
Reporter Farouk Chothia,Taryn Lamberti andWyndham Hartley
Web Link

High-ranking ANC members named regarding alleged irregularities in SA's R43bn arms deal  

WATER Affairs and Forestry Minister Ronnie Kasrils is one of six high-ranking African National Congress (ANC) members being probed over alleged irregularities in SA's R43bn arms deal.  

Sources close to the investigation disclosed yesterday that the inquiry covers Kasrils, who is also a former deputy defence minister, and former defence minister Joe Modise.  

Also being investigated are deputy Denel CEO and former ANC chief whip Max Sisulu; Ntsiki Mashimbye, the chairman of Parliament's joint standing committee on defence; Chippy Shaik, the head of arms procurement in the defence department; and current ANC chief whip Tony Yengeni.

This is the most comprehensive list of names to emerge since the inquiry into the controversial arms deal by the offices of the directorate of public prosecutions, the auditor-general and the public protector began to gather pace.  

Yengeni was alleged in the Sunday Times to have received a R360 000 vehicle from DaimlerChrysler Aerospace, one of the subcontractors in the arms deal. Parliament's ethics committee decided yesterday to investigate whether Yengeni failed to declare the vehicle as a gift in terms of MPs' code of conduct.  

Allegations also now under investigation are that companies gave other politicians vehicles and cash and that a Durban clothing company was used as a conduit for funds from outside SA. In another case, money paid by an SA firm is alleged first to have gone to a Mozambican front company before being used to renovate a Pretoria house.  

The sources stressed that the allegations were unverified, and that the investigation would determine whether they were true.  

Mashimbye expressed surprise last night that he was the subject of a probe and said he thought the investigators should have told him about it.  

Kasrils said he was unaware of "any such interest by any investigators". "I categorically deny any involvement in any irregularities or corruption of any kind. In the event of any such inquiry I would welcome and assist (it) to the fullest to put an end to any suspicion or allegation as soon as possible. I have nothing to hide with regard to any aspect of my financial affairs, including the property I own or assets of any kind. I have no problem with (an) investigation of my bank account and financial affairs. If necessary, this can be done (today) because these matters must be open to public scrutiny."  

Shaik declined to comment, Sisulu is out of the country and Modise could not be reached last night.  

Meanwhile, Yengeni made a surprise defence of his innocence to the National Assembly yesterday only hours after the ethics committee decided to probe his alleged failure to declare the car. He said he had legitimately bought the car and that its "acquisition in no way amounted to a gift or a donation" or influenced the awarding of any contract in the arms procurement.  

With acknowledgement to Farouk Chothia,Taryn Lamberti, Wyndham Hartley and Business Day.