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May 11 2009

Too sticky for SA’s teflon-president?

Published by at 8:24 am under Companies,Top Stories

Oops, suddenly it looks as if the arms bribe allegations might be back to haunt Jacob Zuma, SA’s teflon-president.

The Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) reported this morning that offices of senior managers of MAN Ferrostaal, the Munich-based machine and heavy vehicle builder, have been searched by the police in a national action and one manager taken into custody. The reason: The state suspects MAN paid bribes between 2002 and 2005 to parties outside Germany in return for contracts.

The FTD report simply refers to “suspect transactions abroad”, and do not specifically mention South Africa, or the SA government.

But, you’ll remember the Sunday Times reports of last August, which alleged that MAN Ferrostaal had paid bribes to Thabo Mbeki, which he distributed to Jacob Zuma and the ANC. Read my articles on the topic here and here and here.

At the time MAN Ferrostaal denied the allegations vehemently and threatened Sunday Times with legal action, should the paper not publish a correction and apology. As far as I know, Sunday Times didn’t publish anything of the kind and MAN Ferrostaal also didn’t take legal action. 

A few weeks ago it was annouced in SA that all actions against Zuma and all efforts to get the truth out into the open, have been shelved. This cleared the way for Zuma to become president. 

Now it seems as if the German legal system might still “uncover the truth”. The arms bribe allegations seems to be stickier than even our new teflon-president can handle.

Here a translation of the article published this morning:

Top managers might be involved in MAN scandal

In the bribe scandal of the Munich-based machine and heavy vehicle manufacturer MAN, the German state attorney also has senior managers in its sights.

According to the magazine Spiegel, a serving director of the board is involved. He allegedly was managing director of a subsidiary of MAN until 2005. The magazine Focus reported an ex-manager of MAN was taken into custody. The state attorney didn’t want to comment these reports and will make a public statement later today (Monday).

The state attorney searched the offices and private homes of three suspects last week, who are suspected of having been involved in the payment of bribes between 2002 and 2005 amounting to €13 million for orders of heavy vehicles and busses. The focus lies on foreign transactions.

Should South African transactions also make their appearance in this investigation of the German state attorney, it will be a little ironic: MAN just got a huge order for luxury buses for the FIFA World Cup from the SA government last week. I wrote about it here.

One response so far

One Response to “Too sticky for SA’s teflon-president?”

  1. ZiGermanon 12 May 2009 at 10:22 am

    As I mentioned earlier – the new “Arms Contract” debacle!

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