BAE behind South Africa payments: Saab

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.

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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