Thursday, June 07, 2007

Cash for Arms Deals

Saudi prince 'received arms cash'

BAE Systems made regular payments of hundreds of millions of pounds to Prince Bandar bin Sultan for more than a decade.

The payments were made with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Defence. - BBC

In 1999 an arms deal worth $4.8bn, which included the purchase of corvettes, submarines, light utility helicopters, lead-in fighter trainers and advanced light fighter aircraft, was signed between the South African government and a range of European companies. The companies involved included BAE, Germany’s Thyssen-Krupp, France’s Thales and Saab of Sweden

Tony Blair visited South Africa twice that year helping BAE win this multi-million dollar arms contract. There was agreement between Mr Blair and Thabo Mbeki that the arms deal would also have a job opportunities spin off in South Africa.

This much critisised deal was the largest South Africa had ever concluded, re-arming the country after the end of the arms embargo that had been in place during the apartheid years. Critics have pointed out that there were much more urgent problems facing South Africa, that too much military hardware was purchased and that it was over-priced.

Some of these contracts have subsequently become bogged down in controversy. And more recently it has also been alleged that BAE itself paid what have been termed "commissions" to ensure that it won the contract.

Lt Gen Pierre Steyn, a former top South African defence official, has revealed that he resigned because of suspicions of corruption in the UK-backed arms deal.

There have been several attempts to investigate these arms deals but they have been terminated at various stages by members of the South African government.

To date there have been two succeessful prosecutions. The former ANC chief whip, Tony Yengeni, was one of the first in the spotlight after he started driving around Cape Town in his state-of-the-art dark green Mercedes Benz ML320 4x4 with its tinted windows and plush beige upholstery. Then Schabir Shaik, financial adviser to the South African deputy president, Jacob Zuma, was jailed for 15 years for soliciting a bribe for Mr Zuma from Thales.

And in June 2005 Mr Zuma, following a well publicised rape trial, was sacked from his position as deputy president, while further charges against him continue to be investigated by the South African authorities. He has been accused of having a corrupt relationship with Shaik and of accepting a bribe from the French arms company Thint, a subsidiary of Thales.

In an affidavit, referring to the order for the purchase and fitting of navy corvettes, Zuma said "President Mbeki was, in his position as then deputy president and Cabinet member, very much involved in the arms deal process. He took an active interest and part in it. He engaged role-players and interested parties ... " The affidavit further suggests that Mbeki, not Zuma, should be asked if the multibillion-dollar arms-procurement deal involved corruption.

Patricia De Lille, parliamentary leader of the Independent Democrats, has said that "The truth about the government's ... arms deal will never be known until a full commission of inquiry is established and President Mbeki is investigated by the NPA (National Prosecuting Authority)."

But now it has been reported that the UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has asked its South African counterpart, the NPA, to help it track down more than $139m in "commissions", allegedly paid by BAE to eight South African businesses and a political adviser.

There have also been reports that Mbeki is furious that while an investigation into the BAE arms deal with Saudi Arabia was ended after the attorney general decided that it was "not in the public interest" no such decision has been taken over the South African deal.

Mr Blair’s has a long-stated commitment to helping curb corruption in Africa.

Senior members of the African National Congress, who are the current South African government, have become fabulously wealthy whilst in power.


MK said...

Have i mentioned how much i like these pics of fine looking women you put up every now and then.

mawm said...

The current picture is of Alessandro Ambrosio - the Victoria's Secret model. Beauty without vulgarity!