Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2001-01-09 Reporter: Own Correspondent Editor:

Armscor Pooh-Poohs Corruption Claims

Publication  Mail & Guardian
Date 2001-01-09
Reporter Own Correspondent
Web Link

STATE armaments agency Armscor says American company Quantum International Services, which is reportedly planning to sue for R2bn in damages after a failed deal, has no case - and allegations of corruption against top officials are “just a smokescreen”.

Speaking at a news conference in Pretoria, Armscor chief executive officer Sipho Thomo said Quantum directors Roy Segers and Richard Parker could not substantiate their claims when asked to do so. Thomo’s reaction follows weekend reports that military hardware company Quantum was planning to sue over a failed agreement with Armscor for the purchase of nine surplus C-160 Transall aircraft and millions of dollars worth of spares. However, four days before the money was to be paid, the deal collapsed. 

They alleged that they later heard that former defence minister Joe Modise and current Armscor chairman Ron Haywood were then seeking finance to buy the aircraft themselves. Both Modise and Haywood have vehemently denied the claims. 

Thomo denied there had ever been a contract between Armscor and Quantum, although Quantum had been the preferred bidder to buy the aircraft. Responding to reports that Quantam has also forwarded its claims to several investigative agencies, including the auditor-general, the police, the directorate of public prosecutions and even the National Intelligence Agency, Thomo said that companies which failed in certain transactions sometimes went to great lengths to cause distractions, including levelling charges of corruption. 

Meanwhile, a Cape Town Town defence company says it will hold off suing the government until President Thabo Mbeki decides whether to involve anti-corruption unit head Judge Willem Heath in a multi-agency probe into the state’s controversial R43bn arms deal. 

Richard Young, managing director of CCII Systems, has been advised by public protector Selby Baqwa to go to court. His company was originally identified by the SA Navy as the preferred supplier for the integrated management system for the navy's four new German corvettes, which forms part of the deal. 

Young claimed the contract was awarded to another company with links to former defence officials. He forwarded his information to Heath and the auditor-general, who in a special report to Parliament last year recommended that his grievance be the subject of a separate forensic audit investigation. Young plans to sue for damages of between R100 to R200m, but will only go to court if Heath is excluded from the probe, he said.

With acknowledgement to Mail & Guardian.