Publication: The Natal Witness Issued: Date: 2004-10-22 Reporter: Nivashni Nair

Zuma, ANC had Shares in Nkobi?



The Natal Witness

Date 2004-10-22


Nivashni Nair

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Forensic evidence heard in the Schabir Shaik corruption and fraud trial yesterday indicates that the African National Congress and Deputy President Jacob Zuma could have had shares in the Nkobi group.

According to the 259-report forensic report compiled by KMPG's Johan van der Walt, documentation on the first shares registered in 1995 contains the names of "B Shezi" and "Zuma" in brackets with "ANC" noted on the top and "Nominee document" in brackets.

"It cannot be concluded from this document alone that the Zuma referred to in this document is Jacob Zuma. However, in the document that followed the abovementioned, the initials JZ are noted again with a 2,5% interest in Nkobi Holdings. The initials JZ are consistently used in documentation of the Nkobi group to refer to Jacob Zuma," Van der Walt explained.

He went on to say that the term "Nominee document" is an indication that the shareholding against the names of "S. Shaik", "T. Mthetwa", and "B. Shezi", may not represent the actual shareholding and "that some or a combination of the indicated shareholders was intended to be acting as a nominee or on behalf of the ANC and/or Zuma".

Further documentation such as handwritten notes show that nominee shareholding was considered when Shaik formed the Nkobi group structure.

"Zuma was considered as a shareholder whereby his shareholding would have been in a nominee capacity," Van der Walt said.

Van der Walt told the court an unsigned note supposedly from current KwaZulu-Natal Health MEC Zweli Mkhize addressed to Shaik was found during his investigations.

The letter, dated May 19, 1999, was a token of gratitude from the ANC for Shaik's contributions of R2, 261 million.

According to Van der Walt's research, Shaik made payments to the ANC through Floryn Investments, also an Nkobi shareholder. One such example was related to the hiring of buses for a funeral.

Van der Walt was asked by the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate the fraud and corruption charges against Shaik.

The charges relate to alleged corrupt and fraudulent financial transactions between Shaik and Zuma. The state claims Shaik paid Zuma at least R1,2 million for his influence in business deals, including the arms deal.

It alleges that Zuma assisted Thomson-CSF and Shaik's company Nkobi Holdings to win the tender to construct combat suites for naval corvettes.

According to the state, Shaik played a pivotal role in the annual R500 000 bribe allegedly promised to Zuma by Thomson-CSF.

The state also hopes to prove that Zuma was paid to protect Shaik's Nkobi Holdings and Thomson-CSF from the probe into the irregularities in the arms deal.

Van der Walt's investigation includes the alleged theft of funds by Shaik from the Nkobi group, tax evasion, failing to keep proper books and records and the making of false entries in the books and records of account of Nkobi, and fraud against the shareholders of the Nkobi group.

Describing himself as a "bloodhound" rather than a financial watchdog, Van der Walt referred to his investigation as a puzzle in which financial documents were the pieces.

"Some pieces may not be there but it doesn't mean you can't see the picture," he said.

One of the pieces in the puzzle is the R1,2 million in debts that Shaik settled for Zuma, who could not afford to settle them with "the means at his disposal".

"It is evident from the information at our disposal that Zuma did not have access to sufficient funds derived from his position as an official employed by the South African government to fund his lifestyle and, as a consequence, had to rely on funds from external sources, such as borrowing from financial institutions, Shaik, third parties and the Nkobi group," Van der Walt said.

The report shows that Shaik continued to make payments on behalf of Zuma despite Nkobi's deteriorating financial state.

"We can not find any evidence or indication of an intention of the Nkobi group and Shaik to recover such payment from Zuma," Van der Walt explained.

Van der Walt yesterday explained 68 of the 259 pages, contained in 20 files. Extra shelves had to be brought to court to hold the files.

Prosecutor Billy Downer said that Van der Walt is expected to be in the witness box for the next "few days".

He requested that Judge Hillary Squires rule that the documents not be made available to members of the media and public before the completion of Van der Walt's testimony.

Squires replied that documents presented in court are public documents, although they cannot be removed from court.

He said that although the report was leaked to a Sunday paper, journalists and editors should refrain from publishing upcoming evidence and should only focus on evidence given on a daily basis.

With acknowledgements to Nivashni Nair and The Natal Witness.