/ 4 February 2007

Chippy Shaik in arms-deal allegations

Chippy Shaik, the former head of the South African government’s acquisition programme in the arms deal and brother of fraud convict Schabir Shaik, was allegedly paid a $3-million (about R21-million) bribe by one of the arms-deal bidding companies, Germany’s online newspaper Spiegel reported on Sunday.

According to the newspaper internal documents of Thyssen Krupp, a German company that supplied corvettes to South Africa, revealed that Shaik had allegedly requested the money in 1998. The company apparently deposited the money into a London bank account in 2000.

The allegations contained in the newspaper’s article was part of the evidence that Independent Democratic (ID) Leader Patricia De Lille showed to reporters as proof that the arms deal was riddled with corruption.

She arrived from Germany and the United Kingdom on Sunday.

”The ID wants to commend both the Germany NPA and the UK SFO [Serious Fraud Office] for investigating the allegations contained in the De Lille dossier. The South African government has been sitting on these allegations since 1999 — instead of thoroughly investigating them, it has been in denial ever since,” she said.

The investigations in both countries were now at an advanced stage, De Lille said.

”Our delegation had fruitful discussions with the German NPA around their investigation into payment of millions of rand in bribes during the SA navy corvette procurement process,” she said, adding the Germans were considering filing a request for legal assistance from the South African government.

All that is needed is for the South African government to cooperate with these two countries until the investigations were concluded, said De Lille .

Judge Willem Heath, who accompanied De Lille, said some of the directors of German companies who were involved in the arms deals have already acknowledged their guilt.

”The Germany NPA also informed us that the MD [managing director] of Daimler Aerospace escaped prosecution for corruption because at the time of the bribe payments, he could not be prosecuted on this charge in terms of Germany law … Even so, he paid an acknowledgement of guilt [fine] to the tune of 15 000 Deutsch mark for embezzlement.”

Until 1998 it was not illegal for German companies to pay bribes.

Heath said the fact that the Daimler Aerospace MD had acknowledged guilt was confirmation that he supplied luxury vehicles at heavily discounted prices to 30 South Africans, including fraud convict Tony Yengeni.

”Because the ultimate responsibility for the South African arms deal rests with President Thabo Mbeki, who as deputy president presided over the Cabinet committee responsible for the arms acquisition process, we must ask ourselves: What does he have to hide?” asked De Lille. – Sapa