Maharaj's 'trail of secrets' - paper

2011-11-27 12:13

kalahari.com

Johannesburg - City Press has published details of the controversial transcripts of former transport minister Mac Maharaj being grilled by the Scorpions in 2003.

City Press said on Sunday that it was publishing details Maharaj didn't want the public to know.

It is a matter of public record and has been so for more than four years since edited extracts appeared in this newspaper in April 2007 under the headlines “Mac fights back” and “Inside the Maharaj interrogation”.

At the time, Maharaj – now President Jacob Zuma’s spin doctor – made no attempt to prevent their publication, nor did he seek to initiate a criminal investigation against the reporters who wrote the stories.

But when the Mail & Guardian (M&G) attempted to publish an article based on the transcripts last week – alleging that Maharaj had lied during the interrogation – he first threatened the newspaper with legal action and then filed criminal complaints against two of its reporters.

Maharaj’s attorney, Rudi Krause, on Saturday threatened City Press, saying: “I can give you the assurance that should you even republish the 2007 article, we will lay a criminal charge against you and the newspaper ...

“Should you publish now, it will serve to confirm that you or the newspaper are still in the unlawful possession of the documentation.”

Krause said Maharaj could also lay charges in connection with the 2007 publication.

If Maharaj lied to the Scorpions in his secret interview, he is in trouble. Lying during the interview is a criminal offence punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

Foreign bank

His statements contradict details of substantial payments the Maharaj couple received from convicted fraudster and Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, and his companies. The statements also contradict details that they had operated a network of foreign bank accounts through which these payments flowed.

The payments were made when Maharaj was transport minister and when his department was involved in awarding two lucrative tenders. Shaik benefited from the tenders.

City Press reported in 2007 that Maharaj and his wife, Zarina, told the Scorpions during questioning that:

» They had no offshore bank accounts in Switzerland;

» They had received no money from Shaik or his companies;

» All monies received offshore were earned by Zarina Maharaj as part of her work for the Geneva-based International Trade Centre, General Electric and Xerox;
 
» The family’s Milsek Investment Trust account was “dormant” when it had in fact received two payments of R100 000 – one of them from a company in Shaik’s Nkobi Holdings group; and

» They did not know where the money paid into the Milsek account came from or who used it.

But the details of an investigation published by City Press in 2007 seriously contradicted these statements.

Account

The newspaper detailed a money trail leading to offshore bank accounts in Switzerland, the British Virgin Islands and France.

More than $200 000 was paid from Minderley Investments, an offshore company set up by Shaik, into a Swiss account opened by Zarina Maharaj.

She opened the account just two days before the first payment from Minderley in 1996.

They were the only deposits made into the account until it was closed in April 2000.
 
These details have subsequently been repeated by the Sunday Times and M&G.

During Maharaj’s tenure, his department awarded two now-controversial tenders.

One was for the upgrade of the N3 toll road between Durban and Johannesburg at a cost of R2.5bn.

Shaik’s Nkobi Holdings was part of the consortium that netted the tender.

The other tender, a R265m contract for credit card driver’s licences, benefited Nkobi Holdings, French arms company Thomson-CSF (now Thales) and South African weapons firm Denel.

Knowledge

The Sunday Times revealed a copy of a “consultancy” agreement between Thomson-CSF and Minderley Investments last week.

According to the newspaper, the agreement shows that secret payments totalling 1.2m French francs went from a Thomson-CSF bank account to a Swiss account held by Zarina just two months before the driver’s licence tender was awarded.

These details corroborate those reported by City Press in 2007.

Maharaj has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, saying last week: “I have not been involved in corruption, bribery or broken any law.”

He has refused to confirm or deny whether he and his wife had lied to the Scorpions.

Maharaj’s 2003 interrogation took place in terms of section 28 of the National Prosecuting Authority Act.

It’s a strict measure that strips a person who has been summoned of the right to silence and one that stipulates that a failure to appear or answer questions truthfully is an offence punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both.

Hawks spokesperson McIntosh Polela said on Saturday the fact that City Press had previously published details of the transcript “will have an impact on our investigation because then the information will already be public knowledge”.

We would like City Press to provide us with the story so that we can see if we are investigating something that is already in the public domain.

"We will then make a decision.”

City Press provided the published reports to Polela on Saturday.


 
Read more on:    sunday times  |  mail&guardian  |  mac maharaj  |  schabir shaik  |  jacob zuma  |  johannesburg  |  media  |  corruption
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
58 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Get fit on a budget

It’s time to throw the “I can’t afford to exercise” excuse out the window.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

The basics of BASE jumping
Tips for paddling your first Dusi
Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may be in the mood to philosophize and socialize and expand your mind on various discussions and group activities. You could...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.