Businessman Says Outcome of Arms Deal Probe Could Prompt a R200m Lawsuit
PRETORIA: The outcome of the probe into South Africa's arms deal could prompt a large lawsuit against the state, a private defence contractor said yesterday.
Richard Young confirmed that he had considered suing the state for between R100 million and R200m over alleged irregularities in the procurement of the defence package.
Asked whether he still intended going to court, Young said: "That will depend on the outcome of this investigation."
On Tuesday he refused to answer a similar question.
Young is the managing director of Communications Computer Intelligence Integration Systems (CCII), a Cape Town-based information technology company.
He contends there were irregularities in the awarding of a R40m tender for information management systems (IMS) used in the four corvettes South Africa bough under the arms package.
CCII was named the preferred supplier of these systems, Young claims. The tender was, however, awarded to French company Detexis.
Detexis is the sister company of African Defence Systems, (ADS), of which arms acquisition head Chippy Shaik's brother, Schabir, is a director.
Young confirmed he told a newspaper in January he would seek legal redress for his alleged loss if the matter was not probed by the Special Investigating Unit, at the time headed by Judge Willem Heath,
During cross-examination Martin Kriegler, for ADS said: "Eight months have gone by and you still haven't gone to court."
Young replied he had postponed the matter when the probe was referred to three state investigating agencies.
On his public complaint about the loss of the contract, Young denied he had been mischievous by saying in a television interview that the Detexis product was old technology.
"You planted the idea in the public mind that taxpayers money had been spent on a dud." Kriegler said.
Young responded: "I was not mischievous, but was reacting to questions."
Kriegler said he would demonstrate that the Detexis systems was actually cutting-edge technology, adding it was also acquired by the British navy.
Young maintained that the Detexis technology was "extremely retrogressive", and had been used since the 1950's.
Kriegler had earlier suggested that Young started developing the IMS technology while working for the company , UEC Projects, under an Armscor contract in 1991.
"Now you say this is your own technology," Kriegler said. Young replied that the work done at UEC on the IMS only related to basic technology, but conceded that his was what he described as "the embryo stage" of his product.
Rear-Admiral Robert Simpson-Anderson and Rear-Admiral Johnny Kamerman are to give evidence in rebuttal today.
With acknowledgements to Sapa and the Cape Times.