Publication: Sunday Independent Issued: Date: 2007-05-27 Reporter: Chiara Carter

Battle between State and Arms-deal Whistleblower Settled with Payout



Sunday Independent




Chiara Carter

Web Link


The marathon legal battle between Richard Young, the Cape Town-based arms-industry electronic engineering manufacturer and arms-deal whistleblower, and the state has ended in a R15 million payout.

A joint press statement issued yesterday by the department of defence, CCII Systems and Young said that the legal actions brought by CCII Systems and Young, its managing director, against the minister of defence, Armscor and others relating to the arms-procurement process had been resolved.

The statement said: "An agreement concluded by the parties provides for the irrevocable withdrawal of CCII's claims for damages which, with interest, amounted to nearly R300 million.

Two claims for defamation brought by Young have also been withdrawn.

"Two further court actions relating to the provision of information have similarly been resolved.

"CCII and Young will receive a contribution between them in the amount of R15 million from the state without admission of liability."

It continues: "The legal costs incurred to date and the need for the further allocation of time and considerable expert resources going forward were fundamental factors in the parties' decision to search for a constructive resolution.

"This brings to an end years of complex defended litigation on terms amicably agreed upon.

"The parties express the hope that they will continue to enjoy cordial relations."

Young, whose electronic engineering company CCII was initially earmarked to provide integrated combat suites for the South African navy's corvettes *1, then controversially dropped, emerged as one of the major whistleblowers in the arms-deal scandal.

Other parties to the agreement were the office of the auditor-general; the armaments manufacturer African Defence Systems; Pierre Moynot, the South African representative of the French weapons giant Thomson (reinvented as Thales and, latterly, Thint in its South African operation); and the South African Navy Rear Admiral Jonathan Kamerman.

Young said that he would not be closing his virtual press office, an internet clearing-house for information on the arms deal - with Young's own commentary appended - which has proved an invaluable resource for journalists and other researchers into the alleged fraud, kickbacks and political manoeuvering associated with the government's weapons-procurement process.

Young first raised queries about his concerns in 1998 and wrote his first letter to the auditor-general in mid-2000.

He won several victories when the courts ordered both the auditor-general and the department of defence to make certain documents available.

Included in these documents was a series of earlier versions that demonstrated that the report of the joint investigations team appointed by parliament was altered, allegedly under political influence.

The state, over the years, hired retired naval officers as well as private legal counsel to help officials deal with Young's demands for details and redress.

But in that time the scandal has merely deepened.

Foreign governments, such as those of Germany and Britain, have identified alleged corruption and bribery on the part of their defence suppliers in their business relationships with the South African weapons-procurement mandarins.

Young, who has moved to a farm *2 outside Cape Town but continues to run his business, CCII, now does 99 percent of his business on the international market.

He says he definitely has no hard feelings and declined to comment on the endless bureaucratic delays he faced in getting to a point where he could test his case in court.

"I'm not bitter. This is the way the cookie of life crumbles," he says.

While the Richard Young chapter is concluded, the fallout from the arms deal continues to be felt in the threat of prosecution of Jacob Zuma, continuing shenanigans around the imprisonment of convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik and claims - including the alleged soliciting of a bribe - about Schabir Shaik's brother, Chippy, formerly the country's arms-procurement chief.

With acknowledgements to Chiara Carter and Sunday Independent.

*1       Not quite the entire "integrated combat suites" [R2,599 billion in 1998 Rands], but the Information Management System (IMS) [circa R42 million in 1998 Rands]

*2      Actually a smallholding.