Saturday, May 31, 2008

Court ties Shaik to Zuma

(click to enlarge pic)

Nearing the end of the reign of Mbeki the Magnificent Moron, the country has the ignominious record of starting another (presumably) two terms with a president (Zuma) whose preponderance for accepting sweet deals and financial handouts have been confirmed by two of the highest courts in the land.

Eish…

You can influence that. Vote for anyone BUT the ANC. It is your only chance or pray that the upcoming prosecution of Zuma succeeds.

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Schabir Shaik's bribery of ANC president Jacob Zuma has been proved and established, says South Africa's highest court.

But while ruling that Shaik must pay back the more than R33-million in benefits he received because of his corrupt relationship with Zuma, the Constitutional Court on Thursday found it was "neither necessary nor appropriate" to examine whether Zuma believed the payments he received from Shaik were bribes.

In a unanimous verdict, the court found that the State had established "as a matter of fact" that Shaik, Zuma's former financial adviser, had received multimillion-rand benefits "as a result of Mr Zuma's support for Mr Shaik and his companies".

In the last of his six failed legal battles against the State, Shaik - who is serving a 15-year sentence for fraud and corruption - challenged two courts' findings that he had obtained certain benefits after Zuma intervened on his behalf with French arms company Thomson-CSF/Thint.

Speaking on behalf of the court's 11 judges, Judge Kate O'Regan found the State had proved that Zuma met Thomson after the company, acting on information that then president Nelson Mandela and then deputy president Thabo Mbeki did not like Shaik, started backing out of its relationship with the businessman.

After meeting Zuma on July 2 1998, Thomson recommitted itself to a relationship with Shaik and his companies - resulting in Shaik obtaining a 20 percent interest in African Defence Systems (ADS) as part of the Thomson consortium, which was awarded a multimillion-rand contract to provide the combat suites for the navy's new corvette vessels.

It was these shares and their dividends that the State then seized, arguing they were the proceeds of crime - a claim on Thursday backed by the constitutional court.

Addressing arguments by Shaik's counsel, Martin Brassey SC, that the State had failed to prove that Zuma had intervened on Shaik's behalf solely because of the bribes and not out of friendship, O'Regan said it was "neither necessary nor appropriate … to traverse Mr Zuma's subjective state of mind".

O'Regan accepted the supreme court of appeal's finding that Shaik's payments to Zuma were made "in order to influence Mr Zuma to promote Mr Shaik's business interests and, in attending the meeting in London in July 1998, Mr Zuma did as a matter of fact promote Mr Shaik's interests.

"I conclude therefore that the State has established as a matter of fact that both benefits at issue in this case flowed from Mr Zuma's support for Mr Shaik."

Shaik maintained during his 2005 trial that he would have obtained the ADS shares without Zuma's help.

But, describing this claim as of "no assistance" to the appeal brought by Shaik and his companies, O'Regan pointed out: "Mr Shaik did not choose to litigate. Instead he called on Mr Zuma for assistance and that assistance was furnished in July.

"The effect of that intervention is clear and is not disputed on the record.

"Thomson-CSF (France) changed its mind and set in train a process whereby (Shaik's companies) gained a significant share in the ADS initiative.

"What is clear is that (Shaik and his companies) did not have to litigate because Mr Zuma's intervention made that unnecessary."

Speaking to the media outside the court on Thursday, Shaik's brother, Yunis, said he was "disappointed" by the ruling.

Shaik's family had earlier said that, should they win their battle for his assets, they would use the money to fight for his release.

National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Tlali Tlali on Thursday said the State was "very pleased" with the judgment.

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