Chippy in new arms scandal

2011-10-29 16:26

Chippy Shaik, the man at the centre of the arms deal, is ­embroiled in another bribery scandal.

This time Shaik has been linked to a R750 000 payment from arms deal beneficiaries BAE Systems and Saab to the supervisor of his fake doctorate, Professor Viktor Verijenko.

Shaik was the defence ­department’s chief of acquisitions during the arms deal.

A forensic report recently ­implicated him in having had a corrupt relationship with ­German shipbuilder Ferrostaal, which received the R12 billion tender to provide the navy with three submarines.

In a new book titled The Devil in the Detail, released this week by arms deal researchers Paul Holden and Hennie van Vuuren, they reveal that a local company co-owned by BAE and Saab had made an “interest-free” loan to a company of which Verijenko is the sole member.

BAE scored two multibillion-rand contracts from the arms deal. With Saab, BAE provided the air force with 26 Gripen fighter jets at a cost of R30 billion, while BAE also received the tender to produce 24 Hawk training planes for R11 billion.

In 2007, the Sunday Times exposed Shaik for plagiarising the work of others, including that of Verijenko, to obtain his PhD in mechanical engineering from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2003.

The Ukranian-born Verijenko was the head of the university’s school of mechanical engineering at the time and Shaik’s ­supervisor for his degree.

In 2008, the university stripped Shaik of his PhD after finding that he had copied the work of five international ­professors published in a book 20 years ago.

The university conducted a forensic investigation into his thesis and found he had ­“plagiarised massively”.
Verijenko resigned and moved to Australia.

Although Holden and Van ­Vuuren don’t directly accuse the arms companies of paying Verijenko to assist Shaik in faking his PhD, the authors consider it “remarkable that of all the millions of South Africans ... ?to receive a loan on such favourable terms, it was granted to a friend and confidant of the very man who had used his official powers to ensure BAE and Saab won this most lucrative of contracts”.

They call the payment by ­Sanip – the local firm owned by BAE and Saab – to Verijenko’s Veriytech cc “by far the most intriguing” loan made by Sanip.

“Curiously, the loan was ­‘unsecured, rand-denominated and interest free. There are no fixed repayment terms’.

In layman’s terms, this meant the loan was granted without Veriytech having to put up any collateral, pay any interest or pay back the loan at regular ­intervals.”

This, the authors suggest, may show that the loan was, after all, not a loan but a payment to Verijenko.

According to Sanip’s financial records, the loan was later ­written off in total.

The authors highlight that the payment to Verijenko’s entity was made at the same time the professor approved the awarding of a PhD to Shaik – which ­plagiarised substantial amounts of his (Verijenko’s) own work.

The authors draw the conclusion that Verijenko must have chosen to ignore the fact that Shaik plagiarised his work.

“This, after all, is what friends do. At roughly the same time Shaik’s thesis was being written, Shaik served as the best man at Verijenko’s wedding.”

When confronted with the ­evidence, Verijenko told the ­authors he did not want to speak to them.

He could not be reached for comment.

Shaik, who will probably be one of the key witnesses before the Seriti Commission of ­Inquiry into the arms deal, said he was in Australia and did not respond to a request for comment.

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