Chippy Shaik expected to testify at arms deal commission

Shamin “Chippy” Shaik, the chief of acquisitions for the South African National Defence Force during the arms deal period, is expected to testify before the Seriti Commission of Inquiry today.

Shaik’s testimony has been scheduled to last the whole week at the commission’s public hearings into alleged corruption in the multibillion-rand arms procurement deal in 1999.

The government acquired, among other hardware, 26 Gripen fighter aircraft and 24 Hawk lead-in fighter trainer aircraft for the air force, and frigates and submarines for the navy.

In February 2007, Germany’s Spiegel magazine reported that German prosecutors were in possession of internal memos from Thyssen detailing meetings where Shaik allegedly demanded payment of $3 million to ensure the success of the German bid for the contract to build South Africa’s four corvettes.

The magazine detailed allegations that Shaik requested the bribe in 1998 and that in 2000, the company apparently deposited the money to a nonexistent company in London.

In 2002, Chippy Shaik resigned from the public service after an inquiry found that he acted improperly by disclosing confidential information contained in the Auditor-General’s draft report on the arms deal, to his own lawyers.

The commission – with Judge Willie Seriti at its helm – was appointed by President Jacob Zuma three years ago.

Zuma recently extended the terms of the commission until April 30, 2015 – after which it will be expected to issue a report within a six-month deadline.

Chippy Shaik, is the brother of Zuma’s former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.

Schabir Shaik was sent to jail in 2006 for facilitating a bribe from the French arms company Thomson-CSF. He has since been released on medical parole.

Fana Hlongwane – who served as an arms consultant and adviser to late defence minister Joe Modise – has been scheduled to testify after Shaik, from November 24 onwards.

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