Apr 12 2011

On threshold of Armsgate breakthrough?

Published by at 8:32 am under Companies,South Africa,Top Stories

The stalemate in the Armsgate saga, starring SA’s ex-president Thabo Mbeki and featuring bribes for arms, will only be broken from outside South Africa. That’s been my gut feel for a while. A report in today’s Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) raised my hopes in this regard.

The state attorney in Munich yesterday brought charges against Hannfried Haun, ex-board member of the submarine manufacturer HDW, and an unnamed attorney of Ferrostaal for allegedly paying bribes to Greek and Portuguese politicians in exchange for submarine contracts. In total €62 million exchanged hands. Important: this happened between 2000 and 2007.

HDW, since 2005 a ThyssenKrupp subsidiary, and Ferrostaal cooperated in a consortium at the time – HDW was responsible for the technical side of the submarine building business and Ferrostaal the financial side, wrote FTD.

Between 2000 and 2007 South Africa ordered 3 submarines from the same consortium. The last of the 3 was delivered in 2008. Read all about that here.

Until now, South Africa hasn’t featured in any German media reports. So, it’s too early to say whether The Sunday Times report of 10 August 2008, alleging Mbeki received R30 million from Ferrostaal, was in fact correct. Read all about that major episode here.

Of course, Ferrostaal vehemently denied any wrong-doing at the time and threatened The Sunday Times with legal action if an apology wasn’t published. No apology was published and nothing came of the threats.

After that, the story dropped off the radar screens. The charges brought in Munich might (or might not) be the logjam-breaker. We might be inching closer to the truth again – thanks to the investigative work of German state prosecutors.


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