Maharaj mum on First Rand probe

Former Transport Minister Mac Maharaj has refused to comment on his awaited response on Wednesday to an audit report detailing payments and gifts to him from Durban businessman Schabir Shaik and Nkobi Holdings.

Last Wednesday, First Rand received an audit report into the payments and gifts that they had requested from Deloitte and Touche. First Rand gave Maharaj, a director, who is on leave pending the outcome of enquiries, a week to respond.

Approached by Sapa on Sunday, Maharaj declined to comment on the report, or other issues, ahead of the case against him being concluded.

The Sunday Times reports that the audit includes details of a Maharaj family holiday to Disneyland that was paid for by Shaik. The newspaper claimed that the Scorpions unit had issued a subpoena to Halliburton, a company with ties to United States vice-president Dick Cheney, to reveal why its subsidiary, Brown and Root had paid for the trip.

It said that Mike Elsip, who was managing director of Brown and Root at the time said although it had been billed for the trip, it recovered the funds from Nkobi Holdings or Shaik himself.

Elsip said he met Maharaj once at a lunch organised by Shaik where a proposed airport development at La Mercy in KwaZulu-Natal and a new terminal building at Johannesburg International Airport was discussed.

The Sunday Times said that Shaik confirmed that he had paid the bill after asking Brown and Root to handle arrangements for the holiday in July 1996, including hotel accommodation and a limousine.

He claimed that at the time, one of Nkobi’s subsidiaries, Procon Africa, had been in talks with Brown and Root about projects in various parts of Africa, including SA’s airport developments.

Halliburton’s former financial director, Dave Gerrard has confirmed submitting an 11-page affidavit about the transaction to the Scorpions.

Late last week it was reported that Maharaj’s wife, Zarina, was likely to be charged for tax evasion.

Shaik was grilled for six hours by the Scorpions last week on a variety of issues including investigations into Deputy President Jacob Zuma.

Investigations are attempting to ascertain whether Zuma tried to solicit R500 000 from Thomson CSF/Thales, a company that benefited from SA’s multi-billion arms deal. - Sapa

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