Publication: Independent Online Issued: Date: 2011-06-21 Reporter:

Arms deal probe reopened



Independent Online



Reporter Political Bureau


Hawks boss General Anwa Dramat has ordered an assessment of new bribery claims emanating from Sweden in relation to South Africa's multibillion-rand arms deal.
Picture: Antoine de Ras


Hawks boss General Anwa Dramat has ordered an assessment of new bribery claims emanating from Sweden in relation to South Africa’s multibillion-rand arms deal, it emerged on Monday.

Dramat wrote in a response to DA MP David Maynier: “I am aware of the recent disclosures made by Saab’s executive officer Mr Håkan Buskhe. This information will be assessed by the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks).”

The Cape Times has a copy of the letter.

Hawks spokesman McIntosh Polela confirmed this on Monday, saying: “We’ll look into this information and see where it takes us.”

It emerged last week that an internal investigation by Saab, one of the arms deal contractors, had found a R24 million transfer which remained off the books.

The money had been paid by its partner in the arms deal, British Aerospace Systems (BAE), through the company’s South African subsidiary, SA National Industrial Participation (Pty) or Sanip, to the “South African consultant”, believed to be Fana Hlongwane, an adviser to former defence minister Joe Modise.

Buskhe announced that the company had handed all material of its internal probe to Sweden’s chief prosecutor at the National Anti-Corruption Unit, Gunnar Stetler.

“Our review revealed that approximately R24m was paid from BAE Systems to Sanip. These payments were transferred to the South African consultant shortly thereafter. These transactions have never entered into the accounts,” Buskhe said.

Saab and BAE won the contract to supply 26 Gripen fighter jets in 1999, as part of the controversial arms deal. Sanip was the South African-based company established by Saab/BAE to manage arms deals offsets. It is reportedly linked to Hlongwane.

On Monday, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa called for the government to appoint a panel of judges to conduct a preliminary investigation to assess whether the arms deal probe should be reopened.

“If there is a case to be answered, the panel of judges should also advise the nation on whether the Hawks are the appropriate organisation to conduct the investigation, since this new evidence suggests that their previous investigation had been less than perfect,” Holomisa said.

His call follows those of other opposition parties demanding the reopening of the local arms deal investigation. It was closed last year after Dramat received a memo from commercial crimes unit head Hans Meiring motivating for it to be shut down.

However, the memo was criticised for its errors, including a claim that three suspects had died – when one suspect, Hlongwane, was alive – and for not having completed the analysis of information provided by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office to the Hawks’ predecessor, the Scorpions.

After obtaining a copy through the Promotion of Access to Information Act, Maynier said, “It is hard to believe that this memorandum, riddled with contradictions and factual errors, formed the basis of the decision to close the investigation.”

He has called on Parliament’s watchdog on public spending, the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa), to call Dramat to appear before it and explain his decision to pull the plug on the arms deal probe.

Earlier this month, Maynier handed Meiring’s six-page memo to Scopa chairman Themba Godi, with a request to call Dramat. This week Maynier said he would follow up on that possible hearing. - Political Bureau

With acknowledgements to Independent Online.