Fury over halt of arms deal probe

HAWKS chief Anwar Dramat has confirmed that he has cancelled the investigation into the 1998 arms deal.

Dramat admitted to Sowetan yesterday: "I instructed that it must be closed."

He refused to give reasons. "No, sorry. You can make a written enquiry," he said.

The news comes just one month after Dramat told Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) that the Hawks had reopened the investigation into R450million worth of alleged arms deal bribes.

This happened after Richard Young, an arms dealer who lost out in the 1998 deal and then turned whistleblower, laid new criminal charges of corruption in November last year.

But last week Hawks investigator Colonel Johan du Plooy suddenly told Young that Dramat had terminated the investigation - in writing.

Young slammed Dramat's decision.

"If Dramat refused to provide Sowetan with the reasons, that is unbelievable. It shows they have something to hide," he said yesterday.

Independent Democrats leader Patricia de Lille also slammed Dramat's decision.

"There is no legal basis for him to drop it because there is enough evidence and a prima facie case for him to investigate it. He must have received a political instruction. But how can he ignore what the law demands of him?" she asked.

Scopa chairperson Themba Godi was shocked at the news.

"To cease the investigation is a dramatic development," Godi told Sowetan.

DA MP David Maynier said "it was clear when Dramat appeared before Scopa there was not much appetite to continue the investigation into corruption in the deal. It is a travesty of justice".

A reliable source told Sowetan that the Hawks have a "multitude" of other pieces of evidence of bribery in their possession, including financial records showing that German arms dealers claimed tax deductions on the bribes they allegedly paid.

Sowetan reported last month that the Hawks also have a copy of the signed "German bribe agreement".

This document says Spanish companies had offered to sell the SA Navy four ships for 20percent less than the German Frigate Consortium, which eventually got the tender.

The document also says that Chippy Shaik, brother of convicted fraudster Schabir Shaik and then head of buying weapons for South Africa, had asked for "$3million US for payment to be made in case of success".

At the Scopa meeting last month Dramat told MPs they had to decide if the Hawks should continue pumping money into investigating the arms deal for another three years. MPs slammed him for suggesting Parliament had the power to cancel a criminal investigation and told him to keep investigating.

But he defied their wishes. The R50billion deal was signed in 1999. Within three years, allegations surfaced that British, French and German dealers had paid huge bribes to secure the tenders. An investigation was launched and then chairperson of Parliament's defence committee Tony Yengeni was convicted of getting a discount on a car from an arms dealer.

President Jacob Zuma's financial adviser at the time, Schabir Shaik, was jailed and Zuma himself had charges related to the deal hanging over his head until April last year.

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