Publication: Mail and Guardian Issued: Date: 2004-10-26 Reporter: Sapa

Shaik had 'Service Provider' Deal with Thomson



Mail and Guardian

Date 2004-10-26



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The Durban High Court heard on Tuesday how Schabir Shaik signed an agreement with Thomson CSF International Africa to facilitate payments to his Nkobi group under the guise of a "service provider" agreement.

This is the latest evidence from forensic auditor Johan van der Walt who has been in the witness box at Shaik's fraud and corruption trial for four days.

He said Shaik's application form and covering letter for the agreement was sent to Thomson boss Alain Thetard on December 8, 2000.

It stated "kindly expedite our arrangement as soon as possible as matters are becoming extremely urgent with my client".

Van der Walt said there was no client on Nkobi's books, other than Jacob Zuma, that this note could be related to.

He said under the agreement, Kobifin, an Nkobi subsidiary, had to identify investment projects to Thomson CSF and provide business plans for each project.

He said that what did not make sense was why the agreement came into effect for only six months, from November 1, 2000 to May 1, 2001.

Van der Walt, who is expected to give evidence for the next two weeks, said Thomson CSF was to pay Kobifin R500 000 in two instalments of R250 000 each.

The typed contract document shows that two additional payments of R250 000 were handwritten on to the document. It showed that two payments were due, amounting to R500 000 with a possibility of four, making the figure R1-million.

He said that what was significant was that at this time there was "a real need for Nkobi in cash", Zuma was in financial difficulties, and payments also had to be made into Zuma's traditional village project, Nkandla.

A sum of R249 000 was deposited into Kobitech's Absa account from Thomson International and "it appears that the balance of the service provider payments were not made and there were no attempts from the Nkobi group to legally enforce the payment of the amounts due", Van der Walt said.

This strengthened the argument that the agreement was not for providing services.

Shaik faces three counts fraud and corruption relating to payment allegedly made to Zuma for protection during an investigation into arms deal irregularities.

With acknowledgements to Sapa and the Mail & Guardian.