Publication: Defence Systems Daily Issued: Date: 2001-08-28 Reporter: Leon Engelbrecht Editor:

Richard Young has his Day

Publication  Defence Systems Daily
Date 2001-08-28
Reporter Leon Engelbrecht 
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The aggrieved managing director of a Cape Town based defence information technology company was scheduled to continue his testimony at the hearings into the government's multi-billion rand arms programme on Tuesday. 

 In his testimony in Pretoria on Monday Communications Computer Intelligence Integration Systems' (CCII/C2I2) Richard Young, the first witness outside government to testify in the public hearings into the arms deal, accused prominent figures of misrepresenting facts to procure the strategic defence package. 

Those implicated by Young include the head of acquisition in the Defence Department Chippy Shaik, former Corvette programme manager Frits Nortje, and Corvette project officer Rear Admiral (JG) Johnny Kamerman.  

Young also disputed earlier testimony heard by the presiding panel in several respects. It was, for example, difficult to believe evidence by Cabinet ministers that the government had nothing to do with the awarding of subcontracts, Young said.  

The company was named the preferred supplier of information management systems (IMS) for the Navy's new Meko A200SAN corvettes which moved the company to spend its own resources in addition to state funding to develop the systems, Young claimed. The tender was, however, later awarded to French company Detexis. Detexis -- through Thales -- is the sister company of African Defence Systems (ADS), of which arms acquisition head Chippy Shaik's brother, Schabir, is a shareholder and director. 

Young on Monday said Shaik misrepresented facts when he told Parliament's public accounts committee (Scopa) that CCII had acknowledged its systems needed further development, the SA Press Association reported. Shaik also erred when told the committee that CCII's IMS was a "unique technology" and "that in fact it is a technology and not a product". Young told the panel: "This statement misrepresents the true facts. The IMS consists almost entirely of an integrated set of commercial off-the-shelf products." 

 Shaik furthermore told Scopa that CCII had been asked for a performance guarantee but refused to do so. "This is completely untrue," Young testified. "We were never asked for such a guarantee, either verbally or in writing." Young further testified that South African companies developing electronic sub-systems for mainly corvettes at their own cost were guaranteed contracts if and when the vessels were purchased. "What was said... was that the State could not guarantee that the contractors who took such risks would eventually receive the contract because they could not guarantee that the Corvette programme would eventually materialise," Young said. "However, it was said that if and when the Corvette acquisitions were finally approved, then these contractors who had taken risks in developing their elements would be guaranteed their part of the contract." 

From Young's evidence it seems clear the persons making the guarantees were either not authorised to make such claims or were later over-ruled. This is consistent with allegations from a number of losing international bidders in the programme that a number of "pro's" had "conned" them by promising an inside track in the bidding process. That they had been misled became apparent too late. 

With acknowledgment to Leon Engelbrecht and Defence Systems Daily.