The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has said there was an illegal “common purpose” relationship between former president Jacob Zuma, his convicted financial advisor Shabir Shaik and French-owned arms dealer Thales South Africa (Pty) Ltd to pay and accept bribes for “political protection”.
The indictment in the case of “State versus Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and Thales South Africa (Pty) Ltd” was released by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on Wednesday afternoon.
According to the 89-page indictment, accused number one — Zuma is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud. Accused number two Thales — represented by Christine Guerrier — is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption and one count of money-laundering.
Zuma and Guerrier appeared briefly before the Durban High Court on Friday where the matter was postponed until June 8.
Thales was formerly known as Thint Holdings Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd and Thomson-CSF Holdings Southern Africa (Pty) Ltd.
The indictment said that Zuma held “several high ranking offices in the provincial and national executive and in the [African National Congress] ANC” at the time of the alleged bribes, and effectively abused the trust and power of his position to enrich himself.
The indictment said that “accused 1 [Zuma], 2 [Thales] … Shaik and the companies comprising the Nkobi group [controlled by Shaik], formed a common purpose to bribe accused 1 through an ongoing series of payments from Shaik and the Nkobi Group”.
It said this relationship was formed on or near October 25, 1995 until July 1, 2005, with 783 payments made totalling R4 072 499.85.
It said one of the red flags identifying the relationship between Shaik and Zuma was in February 1999 when an amount of R1 282 027.63 was irregularly written off in the Nkobi accounting records. Included in the amount were various payments made to Zuma totalling R283 451.16 as a loan.
The indictment said these payments made “no legitimate business sense” nor could any of Shaik’s companies afford them as they were “exceeding bank overdrafts and thus effectively borrowing money from banks at the prevailing interest rates to make the payments, interest free”.
The indictment said even if the schedule of payments could be regarded as loans, they still amounted to benefits, as they were provided interest free, without security and that Zuma’s ability to repay the money was “seriously questionable”.
The indictment mentions how during 1999 Zuma intervened and assisted Shaik, the Nkobi Group and Thales Group to “resolve a dispute…regarding Nkobi’s participation” in African Defence Systems (Pty) Ltd which shortly thereafter landed a multi-billion Rand contract from the state to provide combat suites to Corvettes supplied to the navy. The contract was worth R1.3 billion, with R450 million going directly to ADS and the balance going to subcontractors.
The indictment said this intervention showed an instance where Nkobi obtained the assistance of Zuma for the group’s survival and where Thales was assured of “approval” by the deputy president of the ANC, for its choice of a South African BEE partner.
Under a section called “specific corruption”, it states that between 1999 and 2000, Thales, Shaik and Zuma “conspired” to pay Zuma “R500 000 per annum as a bribe in exchange for Zuma’s protection” from any investigation.
Thales, using an offshore company in Mauritius, made payments to Shaik’s companies under the guise of “service provider agreement” which was then funnelled to Zuma, totalling R1 million.
The court heard on Friday, that Zuma’s legal team would be bringing a review application – possibly by 15 May – on the decision to prosecute him. Depending on the outcome, an application could be made for a permanent stay of prosecution.