South Africa: Arms Deal - Thales SA Tries to Distance Itself From the Financing of Zuma's Lifestyle

Former president Jacob Zuma (file photo).

Thales South Africa argues that it had a legitimate business partnership with Jacob Zuma's former financial adviser and convicted fraudster, Schabir Shaik, and that it was unaware that Shaik was financing the former president's lifestyle via a corrupt 'retainer'.

Thales South Africa, the French arms company subsidiary that is expected to stand trial alongside former president Jacob Zuma, believes the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions (NDPP) lacks the evidence to charge the company with racketeering.

Instead, the company argued in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday that it had a legitimate business relationship with Zuma's former financial adviser and convicted fraud, Schabir Shaik.

Thales also contended it was unaware that Shaik was financing Zuma's lifestyle via a corrupt "retainer".

The company secured a R2.6-billion contract as part of the German Frigate Consortium to provide combat suites for the South African Navy's four Meko class frigates as part of the 1999 Strategic Defence Procurement Package, known as the Arms Deal.

Intertwined into this deal were several politically connected black economic empowerment partners such as Shaik and his company, Nkobi Holdings.

Arguing for Thales, Barry Roux SC tried to create as much distance as possible between his client and...

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