22 May 2019

South Africa: Thales, the Company Which Forever Sullied the Memory of the Wise Sage of Greece

Photo: GCIS
Former president Jacob Zuma (file photo).
analysis

Arms company Thales, accused of bribing former president Jacob Zuma, argued on Tuesday that the charges against it are invalid and must be set aside.

In Apartheid, Guns and Money: A Tale of Profit, Hennie van Vuuren describes the relationship between French arms company Thomson-CSF and the apartheid government. The state needed weapons to maintain white rule and the company was happy to breach international sanctions to turn a profit.

"This long-term relationship with the apartheid regime did not preclude Thomson-CSF from quickly doing business with a democratic government in South Africa," reads the report from the People's Tribunal on Economic Crime, which includes some of Van Vuuren's work with Open Secrets.

In 2005, Judge Hillary Squires found that Thomson-CSF had agreed to pay Jacob Zuma R500,000 a year through proxies to protect the company from investigations into the R2.6-billion contract it won in the multibillion-rand arms deal and promote its business interests in South Africa. Squires convicted Zuma's former financial adviser Schabir Shaik for corruption for his role as a middleman.

After marathon legal battles, Zuma and the French arms company, now called Thales, were charged in 2018 but are still fighting to avoid trial, with the Pietermaritzburg High...

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