Commission bogged down by arms deal
Two years not enough to finish procurement investigation
The commission set up to investigate South Africa’s multibillion- rand arms deal has admitted that it is unlikely to meet its two-year deadline *1.
The Arms Procurement Commission, which will begin its public hearings early next year, has the mammoth task of working through more than one million pages of submissions *2 and other documents *3.
The commission is led by Judge Willie Seriti and was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to probe the controversial strategic defence procurement package, popularly known as the arms deal.
The saga has become the single most controversial government deal in post-apartheid South Africa and investigations have implicated top politicians who scored millions from it *4.
Senior ANC politician Tony Yengeni and Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, were convicted and sentenced to prison for fraud in the deal, but both have since been released. Yengeni was sentenced to four years’ imprisonment for accepting a discount on a luxury Mercedes-Benz, but served only four months. Shaik received a 15-year sentence for his “corrupt” relationship with Zuma and soliciting a bribe from French arms manufacturer Thomson-CSF, since renamed Thales, but he was controversially released on medical parole after serving two years.
A key witness to the commission may be Shaik’s brother, Chippy Shaik, who was the chief of acquisitions for the Department of Defence at the time of the arms deal.
Although he resigned, Chippy Shaik has been accused of allegedly soliciting a “success” fee from the German consortium that sold four frigates to South Africa as part of the arms deal.
Commission spokesman William Baloyi said seven submissions had been received, including one from well-known anti- arms deal crusader Terry Crawford-Browne.
“The bulk of the information comes in the form of hard drives,” he said. ‘There is an ongoing process involving the making of copies and binding ... The teams are studying and analysing the completed documents.
“Further documents are coming in and we expect to get more from various sources.”
The commission’s headquarters is in Pretoria and it has a budget of R40-million. But it is unlikely to meet its deadline of finalising its report by November 2013 because of the volume of work.
Baloyi said the commission was now in “phase two”, which included gathering evidence from law enforcement agencies around the world.
“Some agencies that have already conducted investigations into the [ arms deal ] are reported to possess massive documentation and government agencies and other bodies that participated in the acquisition process can be expected to also possess a mass of documents.”
He said these documents still had to be studied and further investigated. There were paper trails to be followed as well as interviews with people.
“It is in this phase that the commissioners may have to visit some of the foreign countries where some of the bidding companies are located in order to gather information,” he said.
The commission hopes to begin phase three — public hearings — early next year. Baloyi said relevant witnesses would be identified and interviewed and the commission could issue subpoenas to bring other witnesses to testify.
“Its duration cannot be predicted, given that there probably will be many witnesses and scores of legal representatives *5, whose availability can sometimes become a nightmare.
“Six months [for the hearings] may be a fair estimation if there are no major disruptions. However, it will not be surprising if the public hearings last for the rest of 2013,” said Baloyi.
The commission will have six months from the date of the public hearings’ conclusion to write its final report.
ACQUISITIVE: Chippy Shaik
CONVICTED: Schabir Shaik
With acknowledgement to Werner Swart and Sunday Times.
The BAE angle has more than 4 million pages seized in South Africa alone.
Most of these are pages derived from images from computer files.
Overseas certain investigative agencies have several hundred thousand pages of copies of paper records; many of these detailing several thousand covert pages made by BAE Systems through its Red Diamond BVO money-laundering subsidiary.
Locally, the Shaik/Zuma/Thales cases probably have a million pages of copies of paper pages between them, hundreds of thousands of them seized in this country, tens of thousands seized in France and thousands seized in Mauritius.
The Germans have hundreds of thousands of pages seized in simultaneous raids on Thyssen, HDW, Ferrostaal and MAN. Many of these document bribes paid by Thyssen to get the frigate contract and by Ferrostaal to get the submarine contract.
In the UK political pressure was placed on the Serious Fraud Office to settle with serial briber BAE Systems and abandon the South African Gripen/Hawk leg.
In Germany political pressure was placed on the investigating authorities in Dusseldorf and Munich to settle with serial bribers Thyssen and abandon the South African MEKO 200AS and Type 209 legs.
A deliciously named Jurgen Koopman of Thyssen paid some small fines in respect of the frigate leg.
It was much worse in Munich in late December last year. Ferrostaal paid hyndreds of millions of US dollars in respect of its corruption in the Greek and Portuguese submarine deals.
But Ferrostaal got off scott-free in respect of its corruption in the South Africa submarine deal.
Their political party certainly did.
Joe Modise died before he received his stash.
Chippy Shaik, Fana Hlongwane, Tony Yengeni and Lambert Moloi cannot be considered as top politicians.
Neither can Richard Charter, Tony Ellingford, Llew Swan nor Jeremy Mathers.
Nor can John Bredenkamp nor Tony Georgadis,
Jacob Zuma is certainly a top politician, but he sold out for ZAR500 000 for two years, but only received R249 725 of this. The South African Reserve Bank took the other R275 as a fee on the forex transaction.
But altogether the Me's, Ye's and Ayencees took some R2 billion in overt and covert commissions in the Arms Deal as follows :
Of this only about
10% to 20% is overt commissions. The rest is
This is just on the DIP side. It probably doubles on the NIP side.
Been there, done that.
If there is anyone out there still reading my magenta comments, I can vouch for the fact that there are still pearls contained herein.
If there is still anyone out there who considers themselves clever enough to know the whyfors and the wherefors of the Arms Deal, here are my competition questions of the moment :
Why did Ferrostaal get off scott-free in respect of its corruption in the South Africa submarine deal?
Why did Thyssen get off scott-free in respect of its corruption in the South Africa frigate platform deal?
Why did BAE Systems get off scott-free in respect of its corruption in the South Africa LIFT and ALFA deals?
Why did Thales get off scott-free in respect of its corruption in the South Africa frigate combat suite deal?
Any provider of the correct answers to these questions during the next 14 days will receive a Christmas hamper consisting of one hundred (100) kiloWatthours (kWh) of electricity made from renewable resources - or an equivalent monetary donation to the Save the Rhino Find.
Anyone who does not enter my competition is a nincampoop.