Shaik faces high court trial

Durban - Schabir Shaik, the controversial Durban businessman who is deputy President Jacob Zuma's close confidante and financial adviser, will face a High Court trial next year, dealing with allegations of corruption, tax evasion and fraud.

He appeared briefly in the Durban magistrate's court on Friday. He was not asked to plead and his case was postponed to February 2, when a high court trial date is expected to be set.

The allegations Shaik faces follow the Scorpions' probe into Shaik's business dealings, including his company, Nkobi Holdings, and several other businesses in which he has interests.

After Friday's postponement of that matter Shaik appeared before another Durban magistrate in connection with being in possession of classifed documents.

The second matter, already on trial, was adjourned to April 4 pending the outcome of a dispute over the validity of a search warrant used to raid Shaik's Durban beachfront flat. It is here the documents were allegedly found last year.

Shaik's legal team is challenging the search warrant.

Reeves Parsee, appearing for Shaik in the corruption trial, said his client was unhappy about the postponement and that the investigation had taken too long.

It had attracted media headlines for over two years.

Shaik's is alleged to be deeply embroiled in the country's controversial arms deal.

Zuma is alleged to have benefited from Shaik's business transactions.

In a charge sheet it has been alleged that Nkobi developed a political strategy in preparing for the arms deal; Shaik's political connections facilitated the contracts and the tenders; and Zuma was a secret nominee shareholder, at no cost, in the Nkobi Group.

The charge sheet further alleges that Nkobi and Shaik have benefited Zuma, in the period October 1995 to September 2002, in the amount of R1 161m.

This was allegedly by way of payments from various Nkobi entities and Shaik to Zuma and various parties for the benefit of Zuma.

These amounts, the charge sheet reads, were not reflected as a liability in any financial documentation relating to Zuma; and there was no evidence of any repayment to Nkobi.

Zuma's benefits were as a result of him furthering the business interests of Nkobi and Shaik, the charges read.

The charges also relate to Zuma and Shaik's interest with Thomson-CSF France and Thales International SA, who finally secured with Nkobi the arms deal in South Africa. Thomson and ADS were joint venture partners within the German frigate consortium that was a bidder for the corvette part of the arms deal.

Chippy Shaik

Shaik's brother Chippy, a former government arms procurer, resigned from his job under a cloud.

The Scorpions found in their investigation that Chippy Shaik, who was chief of acquisitions at the Department of Defence, met with Thomson representatives in 1998. He had indicated he would facilitate matters for Thomson if the company's position with "partners and friends were convenient to Chippy Shaik".

He would otherwise make things difficult.

At that time Thomson was wracked by uncertainties over the "suitability" of their political contacts in South Africa and the "political correctness" of their partners in ADS. This was because the French company had heard rumours that the then deputy president Thabo Mbeki did not approve of Nkobi as a partner.

The probe by the Scorpions has already implicated former Transport Minister Mac Maharaj in benefiting unduly from Shaik.

At the time Maharaj was minister, Shaik obtained the driver's license conversion contract and the N3 Toll Road. The Scorpions alleged Shaik gave Maharaj and his wife Zarina gifts and payments of more than R500 000 in return for multi-million rand contracts.

Maharaj resigned from First Rand where he was a non-executive director after this exposure and the Scorpions have questioned Shaik about this and Maharaj.

Shaik, well known for his fundraising efforts for the ANC and his brother Mo, now working for the Department of Foreign Affairs, were part of the Operation Vula with Maharaj.

Shaik emphatically denies giving gifts worth R500 000 to Maharaj.

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