Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hawks to reopen arms deal probe?

21 June, 2011 

The Hawks have stopped short of promising to reopen their investigation into the arms deal following last week's revelations that a R24-million alleged bribe was paid by a weapons dealer to a local "consultant".

Last week the CEO of Swedish arms manufacturer Saab, Hakan Bushke, revealed that British Aerospace Systems had made a R24-million payment to a South African "consultant" on the arms deal.

The consultant is widely believed to be ANC heavyweight Fana Hlongwane, who was official adviser to former defence ninister Joe Modise between 1995 and 1998 - and the explosive claim reignited calls for the Hawks to reopen their investigation into the deal.

But Hawks chief Anwar Dramat yesterday wrote to the DA, saying that he was aware of Bushke's recent disclosures, and would "assess" the information.

Dramat's spokesman, McIntosh Polela, would not be drawn on further details: "We will assess the information and see where it takes us going forward."

DA MP David Maynier said he welcomed Dramat's undertaking.

Hlongwane has previously been accused of having received R200-million in alleged bribes in the acquisition of the Gripen and Hawk planes .

Meanwhile, defence specialist Helmoed-Romer Heitman told Business Day that the payments to Hlongwane could only have been legal if they were made after Hlongwane had stopped working for the state.

Arms dealer turned whistle-blower, Richard Young, slammed Heitman for trying to "rescue" the arms deal.

Young was backed by Terry Crawford-Browne, a former international banker who campaigned for sanctions against apartheid. Crawford-Browne is taking President Jacob Zuma to the Constitutional Court to force Zuma to appoint an independent judicial inquiry into the arms deal.

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