All posts by OpenSecrets

New Arms Deal allegations against Zuma and Thales

03 May 2017

Corruption Watch (CW) and the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) are engaged in a court challenge to the findings of the Arms Procurement Commission, also known as the Seriti Commission, into allegations of corruption in the multi-billion-rand arms deal. The commission spent four years and over a hundred million rands of taxpayers’ money, only to claim that it found no trace of corruption.
The application by CW and R2K was lodged at the Pretoria High Court in October 2016.
The reason for the challenge, the two organisations said, was that those who are corrupt have escaped accountability for far too long.

Now, the Sunday Times has revealed new allegations, brought to the court by Pretoria lawyer and arms deal consultant Ajay Sooklal and claiming that President Jacob Zuma tried to keep certain information out of sight of the commission. This includes a cash gift from French company Thales (known then as Thomson CSF), a trip to Paris in 2007 for the Rugby World Cup semifinal, and five-star hotel stays and designer clothes courtesy of the company. Papers were filed by Sooklal in the Pretoria High Court, in support of the CW / R2K application. The lawyer has stated that he will testify, should Zuma’s on-off corruption case ever come to trial.

In his affidavit, the newspaper reports, Sooklal stated that back in 2012 Zuma asked him to keep the information of how he had benefited from the arms deal away from the Seriti Commission, which was preparing to get under way.

The lawyer says Zuma told him: “My brother, I have appointed an arms deal commission to finally put to rest allegations of impropriety, bribery or corruption in the Defence Review Project. I request you not to inform the commission that the French were paying me monies over the years up to 2009.”
Speaking to Daily Maverick, Corruption Watch’s executive director David Lewis said that while Sooklal had not approached CW or R2K, his affidavit does bear out the contention that the Seriti Commission did not conduct an investigation proactively and did not properly exercise inquisitorial powers to inquire into the underlying circumstances and the mandate the commission was given.

“Little of the substance … is new. It was all made known in a Sunday Times article in 2014 and that largely relied on a submission made by Sooklal in an arbitration hearing,” Lewis told Daily Maverick. “The commission knew of the allegations contained in Sooklal’s affidavit. They sat back, however, and waited for people to present themselves. They accepted evidence sometimes utilising procedures that were dubious. They did not conduct an inquiry and that is what is drawn out for us by this affidavit. There is nothing new in the substantive evidence that is provided.”

NOT THE FIRST HINT OF SCANDAL

Thales has also been accused of bribing former presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj, using Shabir Shaik’s Swiss bank account as a conduit to channel money into an offshore account registered in Maharaj’s wife’s name. In 2005 Shaik was jailed for 15 years for soliciting a bribe from Thint, the local subsidiary of Thales. His appeal failed and he was incarcerated in 2007, serving just two years of the sentence.

Thales is also accused of giving a €1-million donation to the ANC in 2006.
Through its South African subsidiary Thint, the arms company won a R2.6-billion contract in 1997 to fit four new navy frigates with combat suites. The frigates would be acquired from the German Corvette Consortium consisting of Blohm + Voss, Thyssen Rheinstahl, Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werf, and Thomson CSF. The combat suite element, which made up about 40% of the cost, would be fitted in South Africa after delivery.

CW, R2K frustrated by the state delays in the Seriti Review

28 November 2017

Corruption Watch (CW) and the Right2Know (R2K) Campaign have expressed their frustration at the state’s unacceptable delays in responding to their review application in respect of the findings of the Arms Procurement Commission, also known as the Seriti Commission.

It is almost a year since the two civil society organisations filed their application in the Gauteng High Court, asking the court to set aside the Seriti Commission findings, and it is more than six months since the reasonable expectation that the relevant documents and records would be provided. In light of the state’s failure to file all documents relevant to the findings of the commission, the organisations lodged an application to compel the provision of the documents. This application was set down for today; however on the eve of the hearing the state requested a postponement and filed a notice to oppose the application.

Both organisations consider this an attempt to drag the matter out, delaying once more justice and accountability for one of the biggest and most far-reaching scandals to have rocked this country. The outcome of today’s court hearing, subject to agreement between the parties, is for the matter to be placed under case management and that the dispute over the outstanding documents be resolved by the applicants inspecting and obtaining such documents at the state attorney’s office.
This application raises an issue of significant public importance, and CW and R2K restate their intention to move forward with the review to ensure that the arms deal is not whitewashed, and that the people of South Africa finally receive some answers about those implicated in the deal.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:

Corruption Watch:
Phemelo Khaas phemelok@corruptionwatch.org.za 083 763-3472

Right2Know Campaign:
Murray Hunter murray@r2k.org.za 072 672 5468

Go to www.corruptionwatch.org.za or www.armsdealfacts.com for more information on the arms deal.

Corruption Watch and Right2Know continue to challenge the findings of the Seriti Commission

21 November 2016

Last month Corruption Watch (CW) and the Right2Know Campaign (R2K) launched a legal challenge to the findings of the Seriti Commission on the arms deal. This application was lodged at the High Court in October 2016. CW and R2K note that on 9 November 2016, the Constitutional Court dismissed an unrelated application to review the Seriti Commission’s findings, brought by a third party (Mr Terry Crawford Browne).

The Constitutional Court did not make any findings on the merits of a review of the Seriti Commission but ruled that an application directly to the Constitutional Court is not in the public interest. In other words, an application must be made to the High Court in the usual manner. This is what Corruption Watch and Right2Know have done.

It is unfortunate that certain government spokespeople have suggested that this means the court has therefore cleared the Seriti Commission of any questions about its findings. This is not true. In fact, the president and his ministers of justice and constitutional development, defence, and trade and industry filed a notice to oppose this legal challenge via the State Attorney’s office on 16 November 2016.

The case brought by Corruption Watch and Right2Know continues, in a different court and with a different approach. This case is crucial to ensuring that the truth about the arms deal scandal is not whitewashed through a flawed commission, and to ensure future commissions are not compromised by similar procedural and other irregularities.

For more information about the case, please see our previous statement or visit ArmsDealFacts.com

For more information

Corruption Watch:

Patience Mkosana 072 992 8380

Right2Know Campaign:

Murray Hunter 072 672 5468