Shaik Trial Told of Zuma Debts
Deputy President Jacob Zuma lived way beyond his means but seemed to accept that other people would pay his debts. This was one of the conclusions forensic auditor Johan van der Walt reached as he concluded his evidence on the financial position of Zuma in the Durban High Court yesterday.
He also said that if Zuma were to repay loans from Durban businessman Schabir Shaik and other debts with interest, his salary would not even be enough to cover the interest.
Shaik is on trial for corruption and fraud for allegedly cultivating a "general corrupt relationship" with Zuma, by paying about R1.2 million to Zuma or to others on Zuma's behalf, in exchange for the use of his name and influence in the scramble for government contracts.
Not so, Shaik said, when he pleaded not guilty to these charges. He claimed he was helping a good friend. He added that he was committed to keeping Zuma in politics by sorting out his finances for him, and also said that even though he lent the money to Zuma, he did not ask for interest because of his religious convictions.
Yesterday Van der Walt repeated that Shaik's role of financial adviser to Zuma had done nothing to improve the deputy president's financial position. He also told the court that Shaik and companies in his Nkobi group had landed themselves deeper in debt when they had tried to help Zuma.
Van der Walt said that from July 1996 to December 2003, Zuma had received R3.8 million from different sources, including his monthly salary. In the same period, however, he had spent R4.2 million.
Shaik and the Nkobi group paid another R1.2 million in expenses for him. Van der Walt also found 140 unpaid debit orders and cheques sent back by Zuma's bankers, worth about R447 000.
He explained in his report that Zuma had been in trouble with some of South Africa's commercial banks:
Permanent Bank: A bond for a flat in Berea was registered at this bank. At one stage Zuma had missed 20 bond repayments, and letters of demand were issued. In July 2000 the bond was paid by three deposits from unknown third parties.
Standard Bank: In May 1995 Zuma was granted a home loan for R400 000 to buy a house in Killarney Wilds, through Michigan Investments CC. In February 1997 Standard Bank wrote to Shaik about Zuma's accounts. Shaik paid the outstanding amount of R30 000, and also R40 000 to Zuma's overdraft. Both Shaik and the companies that paid this money were in overdraft. In May 1997 the bank wrote to Shaik, saying that although it appreciated his efforts, it could not allow the situation to continue. The bank demanded R120 000 from Zuma and cancelled his credit card.
Shaik tried intervening, but the cheques were not cleared by his bank and Standard Bank took judgment against Zuma. Settlement talks and more legal action ensued.
Van der Walt said that Zuma still owed Standard Bank R386 637.39.
Wesbank: In June 1997 Zuma bought a Mercedes-Benz E320 for R305 000. The bank did not honour his first payment. Subsequent payments were made by Zuma and some by one of Shaik's companies, Kobitech.
When Zuma fell into arrears again, this time to the tune of R33 000, Kobitech paid some more money to Wesbank. In March 2000 Zuma sold the car to Kobifin, another of Shaik's companies, who had it refinanced.
The account with Wesbank is still not settled. There is an outstanding balance of R71 777.58 and according to Van der Walt, there is a note on the account saying that the conduct of the account was "bad".
In May 2001 Wesbank financed another car bought by Zuma, this time a Mitsubishi Pajero. Van der Walt said it was not clear why Wesbank agreed to conclude another deal with Zuma.
On December 16 2003, Zuma still owed R355 543 on the car, of which R129 000 was in arrears.
Absa: In August 1999 Shaik was informed by Absa that Zuma's account was R16 000 overdrawn and his credit card account was over the limit, too.
By July 2000 Zuma's overdraft had increased to R105 786. "Absa also indicated that the conduct of Zuma's account was unacceptable," he said.
In 2001 both Shaik and Zuma were accepted as Absa private bank clients - something which Van der Walt said was indicated in documents to have been a political decision.
Van der Walt said Shaik had supplied the bank with a summary of Zuma's assets and liabilities that contained inaccuracies, not explaining what had happened at the other banks.
Nedbank: On June 2001 Nedbank informed Shaik that the balance of Zuma's account was in overdraft by about R109 000 and that it had returned debit orders to Mercedes-Benz Finance and American Express because of lack of funds.
Zuma was also in trouble with AQ Holdings, which at one stage threatened to sequestrate him, had to be bailed out of a debt with Mercedes-Benz Finance and had to be helped when he did not pay his rent.
The trial continues.
With acknowledgements to Estelle Ellis and The Mercury.