Shaik Admits to Backdating Arms Papers
Fraud and corruption accused Schabir Shaik backdated two documents submitted to the Thomson-CSF Paris head office in a bid to secure money from the French arms company.
Shaik, who has pleaded not guilty to two counts of corruption and one of fraud, also let slip under cross-examination that his defence counsel, Francois van Zyl, would “call one of the French” and that lead prosecutor Billy Downer should “direct your questions to him”.
This is the first sign that the defence will call witnesses in the trial that began last October.
Van Zyl has remained tight-lipped about who can defend his client’s version of events that a tête-à-tête allegedly cemented a R500 000 annual bribe for Zuma from Thomson-CSF in return for protection against investigations into arms deal irregularities.
Thomson-CSF Africa director Alain Thetard has refused to testify, despite the state offering to drop charges against him. *1
Yesterday Shaik admitted that on August 23 2001 he had backdated two documents relating to a service-provider agreement between his Nkobi Holdings group and Thomson-CSF after the two firms won the corvette tender.
Downer said the paper trail showed Thomson-CSF had paid Nkobi Holdings several tranches of R250 000, which the state alleges formed the Zuma bribe.
Thetard and Shaik had to create the service-provider agreement for the French head office to offer legitimacy to the deals. *2
Shaik claimed the backdating, which happened while he and Nkobi financial director Colin Isaac were attending a meeting with the Thomson-CSF Africa in Mauritius, had been “a request on their side”.
Downer countered that Shaik was the only person who had benefited from the backdating, as the business contract between the two companies had expired by August 2001.
Nkobi was Thomson-CSF’s black empowerment partner.
With acknowledgements to Nicola Jeney and the Business Day.
*1 Not against him, they dropped charges against Thomson-CSF (who were Accused No. 10 in this case).
*2 Exactly - circumvent the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention, which came into effect in France in about 1999, after Thomson-CSF had paid money to Mandela Trust, Mbeki Trust, Yusuf Surtee, etc. but before they found a need to paid the Zuma Trust.