Saab admits secret arms-deal payments
Mail and Guardian
|Reporter||Sam Sole, Stefaans Brummer|
company denied there was a basis for the claim that the payments
constituted a bribe, but said: "We are still highly critical … that the
company's bank account was utilised as a payment tool."
The covert nature of the contract and the payments casts new doubt on national director of public prosecutions Menzi Simelane's decision to halt the investigation of Hlongwane.
Saab said all investigation material had been handed over to Sweden's chief -prosecutor, Gunnar Stetler, at the national Anti-Corruption Unit. Stetler is in the process of deciding whether to re-open a criminal investigation of the deal in Sweden.
In March 2010 Simelane ordered the Asset Forfeiture Unit to abandon its bid to freeze Hlongwane's assets, mostly held in offshore accounts. The unit had obtained an interim order and was preparing to make a case to seize the assets as the proceeds of crime.
Simelane invited representations from Hlongwane's attorneys and thereafter accepted that the consultancy agreements presented to him were above board, in spite of the fact that there was no evidence of legitimate services provided to account for the enormous sums paid. The revelation that BAE hid at least one agreement from its Swedish partner casts further doubt on Simelane’s decision.
With acknowledgements to Sam Sole, Stefaans Brummer and Mail and Guardian.