Return arms deal equipment – Terry Crawford-Browne

2014-10-08 19:47

Military hardware acquired during the controversial 1999 arms deal should be sent back to the different suppliers, the Seriti Commission of Inquiry has heard.

“I submit that repudiation of the arms deal contracts would signal the international community that South Africans are in fact serious about dealing with corruption,” said anti-arms deal campaigner Terry Crawford-Browne today.

“May I also respectfully suggest that the commission recommends to President Jacob Zuma that BAE, German Frigate Consortium, German Submarine Consortium, Thales and Augusta be blacklisted not only in South Africa but internationally?”

He said it was irrational for the new South African government, which had inherited an almost bankrupt economy, to buy lavish military hardware.

“The purchase was fraudulently disguised through the offset programme as some unique opportunity to stimulate South Africa’s economic development and to create jobs,” he told the inquiry in Pretoria.

He said the arms deal was “guesstimated” to have cost South Africa over R70 billion, which was likely to be grossly understated.

Crawford-Browne said evidence showed that Barclays Bank of England financed the acquisition of the BAE Hawk and the BAE/Saab Gripen fighter aircraft.

Commmerzbank of Germany financed the purchase of the four frigates and three submarines. Societe Generale in France financed Thomson CSF combat suites in the German frigates. Mediocredito Centrale in Italy backed the purchase of 30 Augusta helicopters.

Crawford-Browne said the Commerzbank foreign loan agreements for the frigate purchase contracts ran for 13 years, and should have been repaid by 2012. The loan agreement for the submarines was extended until 2016.

The Barclays Bank loan for the Hawk and Gripen fighter jets were for 20 years, running until 2019.

Crawford-Browne said the testimony of Andrew Donaldson, a deputy director general at Treasury, indicated that “the liabilities” had been extended to 2021.

The commission was appointed by Zuma three years ago to investigate alleged corruption in the arms procurement deal.

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