Publication: Business Day Issued: Date: 2001-01-09 Reporter: Editor: Sapa

Decision to Sue Rests on Heath Unit's Inclusion

Publication  Business Day
Date 2001-01-09
Editor Sapa
Web Link

A CAPE Town defence company plans to hold off suing the government until President Thabo Mbeki has decided whether to involve anti-corruption unit head Judge Willem Heath in a multi-agency probe into the R43bn arms deal. 

Richard Young, CCII Systems MD, who turned to several agencies including public protector Selby Baqwa for relief, has been advised by 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 controversial deal. Young claimedthe
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 also briefed Dr Gavin Woods, the public accounts committee chairman. 

The committee recommended a multisectoral probe into the acquisition programme. Young plans to sue for damages of between R100m and R200m but will go to court only if Heath is excluded from the probe, he said yesterday. 

Mbeki's office on Friday said it was awaiting a recommendation from Justice Minister Penuell Maduna. Meanwhile, the state armaments agency Armscor has called a media conference today to answer allegations of corruption against top officials. 

This follows reports that two American businessmen were planning to take it to court for damages totalling about R2bn after a deal to purchase surplus SA Air Force transport aircraft apparently fell through. Their company, Quantam International, claims it concluded an agreement with Armscor for the purchase of nine surplus C160 Transall aircraft and millions of dollars worth of spares. Four days before the money was to be paid, the deal collapsed. 

They have also forwarded their claims to several investigation agencies. 

With acknowledgement to Sapa and Business Day.