Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2010-08-06 Reporter: Christelle Terreblanche

Key arms deal document delivered



Independent Online



Reporter Christelle Terreblanche
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Arms deal crusader Terry Crawford-Browne delivered a raft of key documents on the arms deal to Parliament in a last-ditch bid to ensure that its latest inquiry into the government's multibillion-rand arms deal does not flounder.

Crawford-Browne handed over 163 pages of affidavits this morning - mainly compiled by the British Serious Fraud Office (SFO) and the erstwhile Scorpions, which outlines allegations of bribes of 115 million pounds (R1.3 billion) that arms manufacturer British Aerospace (BAe) allegedly paid to secure contracts.

"We just want to make sure that if investigators come back and say there is nothing to probe, there are 163 pages that show how the payments were made and to whom," he said this morning.

Also in his bundle is the top secret loan agreement between the British Exports Credit Guarantee Department (ECGD) and Barclays Bank to finance the BAe/Saab fighter aircraft deal. Crawford Browne has trotted a well-worn path to the courts to prove that former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel signed the loan agreement irregularly, but has so far lost apart from validating his leaked copy of the agreement. He also furnished Parliament with a copy of his 2008 complaint to the police alleging "perjury and money laundering" by the government in the deal, which he claims was ignored by the police.

The documents were handed over to chairman of Parliament's spending watchdog committee, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Themba Godi, who spearheaded a bid since 2008 to ensure that all government entities complied with recommendations that followed an inquiry into allegations of graft in the deal. The Joint Investigative Team (JIT) report among others ordered further probes, but has exonerated the government from any wrongdoing in the main contracts pertaining to the R50bn deal.

A three-day hearing on the evidence gathered over the past 18 months set down for next week has been postponed, while a key witness, arms manufacturer Richard Young, was notified on Tuesday that he was no longer required to testify on the 700 pages of documents he submitted early last year to "prove" allegations that there was a high-level cover-up of the real findings of the investigative team.

This morning Godi promised, however, that Scopa would meet on the matter "in weeks".

Crawford-Browne was accompanied by DA MP Mark Steele and lawyer Paul Hoffman. Steele said he intends focusing at the hearing on the vigour, skills and resources that the Hawks are applying in their investigation of the deal.

A probe by the British SFO into alleged irregular commissions paid by BAe worldwide was closed down last year when the company paid an admission of guilt fee in a plea bargain arrangement, while a German investigation into commissions in other parts of the arms acquisition package was stopped because South Africa was not providing the requisite assistance.

The British investigators, however, had already motivated for a raid on the South African premises of two prominent suspected conduits for the commissions, an adviser to former Defence Minister, Joe Modise, Fana Hlongwane, and a BAe agent, businessman John Bredenkamp. It is the investigators' affidavits that their prima facie case of money laundering - replete with details - to the North Gauteng High Court that Crawford-Browne tried to put in the public domain today.
  • This article was originally published on page 7 of Daily News on August 06, 2010

With acknowledgements to Christelle Terreblanche and Independent Online.