Court Told Denel Executives Involved in Fraud Cover-Up
Allegations of conspiracy to cover up alleged fraud and corruption by the senior management of Denel, the defence parastatal, and external professional practitioners surfaced in the Pretoria high court yesterday.
A report on the alleged fraud and corruption was sent to public enterprise minister Alec Erwin, said Wil Dreyer, counsel for Ashook Kirpal, the acting head of the Denel forensic management unit until his suspension on February 3 on alleged sexual harassment charges.
Dreyer was speaking in support of an application by Kirpal related to his suspension and disciplinary hearing, and any investigation related to fraud and corruption discovered by Kirpal.
Denel and Mpho Jabari, its head of security and investigations, opposed the application. Judge Annemarie de Vos reserved judgment.
The court hearing followed about five previous hearings in front of different high court judges and widespread speculation at the weekend about the future of Denel chief executive Victor Moche.
The public enterprise department confirmed that Erwin would make announcements in regard to state-owned enterprises, including Denel, in his budget vote speech tomorrow.
Kirpal said in an affidavit that in November last year he came across accounts rendered by attorney Colin Pather and forensic investigator P Naidoo. It transpired that some of the services Denel was invoiced for were not provided, he said.
He terminated the mandate of Pather and Naidoo, and refused to authorise payment.
Kirpal said that on February 2 he was called into Jabari's office and informed that charges had been laid against him.
He denied the allegations and informed Jabari that he suspected a conspiracy between the complainant and Pather.
Jabari denied in an affidavit that Kirpal had allegedly discovered corrupt activities and that disciplinary action was being taken against Kirpal as a result of these discoveries.
He said he did not know of the alleged corruption when he spoke to Kirpal on February 2.
Jabari said he had terminated the services of Pather, and prior to taking this action had not been aware of any irregularities related to billed services not having been rendered to Denel.
"It was done because I was of the view that Denel was paying Kirpal and other attorneys in the [forensic management] unit to do the work, which work was then contracted to persons outside Denel, people formally employed by Denel and who set up their own business to do the very same work."
With acknowledgements to Roy Cokayne and the Business Report.