Saab denies wrongdoing in fighter jet deal

Swedish defense group Saab said Friday an ongoing probe into reports it had secretly paid millions of euros to ensure South Africa did not back out of a deal to buy 26 fighter jets had turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.

Saab denies wrongdoing in fighter jet deal

“Our investigations are continuing, but nothing has emerged so far in the

numerous investigations previously carried out by the Public Prosecution

Authority to prove that anything illegal took place,” Saab president and chief

executive Håkan Buskhe said in a statement.

“Saab has a zero-tolerance policy regarding bribery,” the company insisted.

The comments came just days after an investigative news programme on

commercial TV4 said it had new evidence of corruption connected to Saab’s 1999 deal to sell 28 — later reduced to 26 — JAS Gripen fighter jets to South


The programme published what it said was a 2003 contract between Saab

subsidiary Sanip and Fana Hlongwane, the advisor to the South African defence

minister at the time, promising to pay him millions of euros in bonuses if South Africa did not back out of the Gripen deal.

The document showed Sanip had agreed to pay Hlongwane over 50 million

kronor (5.6 million euros, $7.9 million) between 2003 and 2005, and that a

further 30 million was scheduled to be paid later this year.

“We take the accusations very seriously and have therefore conducted our

own enquiries in order to investigate what took place,” Buskhe said in

Friday’s statement.

“Our investigations so far show that there has not been any payments made

by Sanip to the consulting firm (of Hlongwane). Nor did Saab know anything

about the contract and did not sanction it,” he insisted.

He went on to acknowledge that “in hindsight, we can state that Saab should

have had greater control over Sanip’s operations, (but) at the same time,

there is nothing in the published contract to show that any irregularities

were committed.”

The TV4 corruption allegations, which came as Buskhe and Swedish Prime

Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt were in Brazil where Saab is in the running for a

multi-billion-dollar contract for 36 new fighter jets, are not new.

Saab’s Gripen jet sale to South Africa and its cooperation with shareholder

BAE Systems have already faced several probes in Sweden, South Africa and

Britain, but no wrongdoing has ever been proven.

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Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court

Swedish car maker Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson and the firm's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have appeared in court in Vänersborg in west Sweden, accused of falsifying financial documents shortly before the company went bankrupt in 2011.

Former Swedish Saab bosses appear in court
Saab's former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson. Photo: Karin Olander/TT
The pair are accused of falsifying the paperwork at the height of the Swedish company's financial difficulties at the start of the decade.
A third person – who has not been named in the Swedish media – is accused of assisting them by issuing false invoices adding up to a total of 30 million kronor ($3.55m).
According to court documents, the charges relate to the firm's business in Ukraine and the paperwork in question was signed just before former CEO Jan Åke Jonsson resigned.
Both Jonsson and Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers have admitted signing the papers but denied knowledge of the Ukranian firm implicated in the case.
All three suspects deny all the charges against them.

Saab's former head lawyer Kristina Geers. Photo:  Björn Larsson Rosvall/TT
Saab filed for bankruptcy at the end of 2011, after teetering on the edge of collapse for nearly two years.
Chief prosecutor Olof Sahlgren told the court in Vänersborg on Wednesday that the alleged crimes took place in March 2011, when Saab was briefly owned by the Dutch company Spyker Cars.
It was eventually bought by National Electric Vehicle Sweden (Nevs), a Chinese-owned company after hundreds of staff lost their jobs.
The car maker, which is based in west Sweden, has struggled to resolve serious financial difficulties by attracting new investors since the takeover.
In October 2014 it announced it had axed 155 workers, close to a third of its workforce.
Since 2000, Saab automobile has had no connection with the defence and aeronautics firm with the same name. It only produces one model today, the electric 9-3 Aero Sedan, mainly targeting the Chinese market.