BAE behind South Africa payments: Saab

Swedish defense group Saab said Thursday that a 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 on Saab's part.

BAE behind South Africa payments: Saab

Saab’s internal investigations revealed that approximately 24 million rand ($3.5 million) was paid from British BAE Systems to Saab-owned subsidiary Sanip. These payments were transferred to the South African consultant shortly thereafter.

“These transactions have never entered into the accounts,” says Saab’s President and CEO Håkan Buskhe.

Buschke became the Saab CEO in 2010 and claims that Saab has a zero-tolerance policy towards irregularities.

“Our internal investigation and openness in this matter demonstrates how seriously we regard this,” Buschke said in a statement.

Saab announced the probe following 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 Africa earlier in the spring.

The programme published what it claimed to be a 2003 contract between Saab subsidiary Sanip and Fana Hlongwane, the advisor to the South African defence minister at the time promisisng 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 ($7.9 million) between 2003 and 2005, and that a further 30 million was scheduled to be paid later this year.

But according to Saab it was BAE systems that made these payments, through Saab-owned Sanip, but completely unbeknownst by Saab.

“A person employed by BAE Systems has without Saab’s knowledge signed a for us unknown contract, signed for us up until now unknown transactions as well as signing the audited and apparently inaccurate financial statement for 2003,” Buschke said in Thursday’s statement.

According to Saab, the investigation and assembled materials have been submitted to Swedish lawyer Tomas Nilsson, who has been asked to comment whether, in his view, the investigation material supports Saab’s conclusions.

Saab has handed all the materials over to Chief Prosecutor Gunnar Stetler at the Swedish National Anti-Corruption Unit on Saab’s behalf.

Stetler told news agency TT that he has received rather an extensive body of material from Saab which he will now begin reviewing.

“I am counting on being done sometime the week after next,” he said,

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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.