Former president Jacob Zuma's adviser fraudster Schabir Shaik and French arms manufacturer Thales allegedly formed a common purpose to bribe the former president through a series of payments.
This was revealed in the 89-page indictment released by the National Prosecuting Authority this week.
The State said Zuma had benefited in the period of October 25, 1995, to July 2005 through 783 payments totalling R4 072 499.85.
"This was by way of payments from Shaik and/or relevant corporate entities within the Nkobi group (controlled by Shaik) and/or the other relevant corporate entities to accused one (Zuma) and various parties for the benefit of accused one," read the indictment.
Zuma appeared in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court in Durban on Friday, April 6, along with his co-accused, Thales, which was represented by Christine Guerrier.
Guerrier had travelled from Paris to attend the case.
No business sense
Zuma as accused number one faces charges of fraud, money laundering, corruption and racketeering. The former president had the support of senior ANC KwaZulu-Natal and former Cabinet ministers when he appeared last Friday. The case was postponed to June 8.
The indictment says the common purpose between Zuma, Shaik and Nkobi group was formed on or before October 25, 1995.
However, the State says the scheduled payments to Zuma do not make any legitimate business sense.
It alleges that neither Shaik nor the Nkobi group could afford the payments, as they were at all times in a "cash-starved position" and at times relied on bank overdrafts and borrowing money from banks at prevailing interest rates – to make the payments interest free.
The State also said the group's survival depended on obtaining profitable new business. It also said whether the loans were affordable or not, it was not the Nkobi group's legitimate business to make payments to Zuma or other politicians.
"Even if the payments could properly be regarded as loans, they amounted to 'benefits'," it said.
No effort to recover payments
The State said some of the payments, described and treated in certain Nkobi groups as loans, was inconsistent.
"The final accounting treatment of R1 137 722.48 of the total payments of R4 072 499.85 does not reflect the payments as loans," it said.
The State added that the schedule payments were intended by Shaik, the Nkobi group and Thales as bribes.
"The funds were paid without security. This is not a usual commercial practice with banks, more especially in respect of a customer with accused one's risk profile.
"Despite Nkobi's precarious position with the banks, Shaik and Nkobi made no effort to recover any of the payments from accused one.
"This failure to demand repayments is itself a benefit to accused one."
'Service provider agreement'
The State also alleges that during 1998, Zuma intervened and assisted Shaik, the Nkobi group and Thales to resolve a dispute that had arisen regarding Nkobi's participation with Shaik in the acquisition of African Defence System (ADS).
The former president's assistance relating to the arms deal was informal and it did not form part of the official bidding/selection process, said the State.
The indictment further alleges that in 1999 and 2000, Thales and Shaik conspired with Zuma to pay him an amount of R500 000 per annum as a bribe in exchange for his protection in investigations into the arms deal.
"These annual payments were to continue until the first payment of dividends by ADS."
The State further alleges that it was agreed between the parties that the "bribes" would not be paid directly to Zuma, "but that some method of payment would be employed that was calculated to disguise the true nature of the payments so as to avoid detection".
The indictment says during late 2000 to early 2001, Kobifin (Pty) Ltd entered into a so-called "service provider agreement" with Thales in Mauritius as a device to "conceal or disguise the true nature and source of the payments of the bribe".
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