Publication: Sunday Independent Issued: Date: 2004-10-31 Reporter: Estelle Ellis

Shaik Trial Follows the Money Trail



Sunday Independent

Date 2004-10-31


Estelle Ellis

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An agreement for "revolving credit" that Schabir Shaik negotiated with Deputy President Jacob Zuma is expected to be the focus of this week's trial.

Shaik said in his plea explanation that he had such an agreement with Zuma. Yet, with rows of neat blue files before him, Johan van der Walt, the forensic auditor, said this was one document he did not find.

When some of the money clearly paid by Shaik's Nkobi group of companies to Zuma disappeared as if into thin air from Shaik's books, it triggered the Scorpions' suspicions.

To find the missing money, they put Van der Walt, by his own admission a bit of bloodhound, on its trail. He found the money... and much more.

In summary his conclusions were that:

Zuma lived in a state of debt. Shaik and his companies paid R1,2 million of this debt, even though they were also in perpetual debt.

Shaik, as financial adviser to Zuma, had virtually taken control of his finances, but did nothing to relieve Zuma's money woes.

There are no indications that this had happened before Shaik decided to set up the Nkobi group of companies.

There were no indications that the Nkobi group ever intended to recover the money from Zuma.

When former president Nelson Mandela gave Zuma R2-million for an education trust, R1-million was used to reduce overdrafts in Zuma and Shaik's accounts.

The state will say that this and some payments made for Zuma's homestead in Nkandla was part of an effort to hide the payment of an anticipated bribe of R1-million by French arms company Thint in return for Zuma's protection against investigations into the arms deal.

Money paid by the company to or on behalf of Zuma was "written off" in 1999 using some very creative accounting.

There was something very suspicious about a "service provider" agreement between Thint and one of the companies in the Nkobi group.

It made no business sense. The state will say that it was a way to facilitate the payment of the R1-million bribe.

Van der Walt will be cross-examined on Tuesday.

With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and the Sunday Independent.