Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2001-08-29 Reporter: Bonile Ngqiyaza Editor:

State Tears into Young over Claims


Publication  Business Day
Date 2001-08-29
Reporter Bonile Ngqiyaza
Web Link www.bday.co.za

 

Arms deal probe witness challenged

THE state has attacked a key witness at the public hearings into the arms deal, saying a "huge self-interest" was behind his actions and threats to litigate.

CI Systems MD Richard Young has alleged widespread flaws and inconsistencies in the evaluation of bids, something he says prejudiced him.

Young who lost out on a multimillion-rand contract for the supply of a combat suite for corvettes on the arms deal is the only witness before the commission who says he has evidence of irregularity in the awarding of contracts.

Advocate Michael Kuper who represents the state in the public hearings questioned Young's motives during an unfriendly cross-examination session in Pretoria yesterday.

Kuper elicited a concession from Young that the combat suite his firm was selling was an insignificant part of the corvette deal "somewhat less than 1% of the corvette deal".

Said Kuper: "If there was a conspiracy so vast (then those) people and companies were merely ganging up against a small percentage (of the corvette deal), I think."

After Young's legal counsel objected to Kuper's line of questioning at some stage during the cross-examination, saying it seemed designed to "gain advantage in future civil proceedings", Kuper said his questions were to test Young's bona fides.

Kuper forced Young to admit he had started an active media campaign to publish his views.

He said: "Is it correct to say that you have deliberately sought media exposure? Would you list to us the media both visual and print to which you have taken your story?"

Young's lawyers objected, saying "the media is entitled to ask questions and to report on those. We have recourse to all channels informal and formal, legal and commercial".

Kuper was unrelenting. He said Young's testimony contained "wide-ranging accusations, innuendo. Have you satisfied yourself that this is the way you want to launch your attack?"

He also challenged Young's assertion that he had "some of the (arms deal) documents" in digital form and that these had been deleted.

Kuper said there was no such thing as "a classified document in digital form and unsigned".

Young refused to divulge the names of senior state officials who had given him information in public, saying he had released those to the other agencies probing the controversial R43bn deal.

Kuper argued that Young's philosophy on the matter was shaped by "the history of the matter and because of the expense" he had incurred.

He said there had never been a legitimate expectation created that Young would win the contract for the combat suite for the corvettes.

He asked: "Do you realise that there were about 50 bidders at all levels who were successful or unsuccessful. Does it surprise you that except for your company, the processs has resulted in no litigation at all?"  

With acknowledgment to Bonile Ngqiyaza and Business Day.