President Jacob Zuma.
JOHANNESBURG - Lawyer, Ajay Sooklal says he is prepared to testify against President Jacob Zuma to detail how Zuma was allegedly bribed by a French company implicated in arms deal corruption.
Sooklal represented French arms company Thint/Thales, and was intimately involved in the state’s aborted corruption case against Zuma and the firm.
He’s claimed under oath that the president asked him not to reveal to an inquiry into Arms Deal corruption, how the company had been paying him.
He has also made a series of corruption allegations against both the ANC and senior party leaders. Much of that alleged corruption concerns French arms company Thales, found to have paid a R250,000 bribe to Schabir Shaik to ensure Zuma’s support and protection.
Currently, Zuma is fighting to overturn a high court ruling that he SHOULD be prosecuted for corruption.
Thales's South African subsidiary Thint won a R2.6-billion contract in 1997 to fit four new navy frigates with combat suites.
Ajay Sooklal, described as a fixer for the arms company, claims he witnessed Zuma use the code words “Eiffel Tower” to accept the bribe.
Sooklal told eNCA, that he is more than happy to testify and to reveal how the arms company gave Zuma cash payments, designer clothes and luxury stays in upmarket hotels, while former Thales director Pierre Moynot told The Sunday Times his company paid Zuma’s legal fees and for clothes and trips.
In court papers, Sooklal also alleges that Thales/Thint paid legal bills for former presidential spokesperson, Mac Maharaj.
Sooklal claims the funding was provided when Maharaj opposed an attempt by then Scorpions prosecutor Gerrie Nel to get access to his wife's Swiss bank records.
Thales, along with a firm owned by Shaik, had benefitted from a R265-million contract to supply credit card driver's licenses when Maharaj was transport minister.
Maharaj has repeatedly denied any wrong doing.
Maharaj’s lawyer Rudi Krause has denied Sooklal’s claims, saying they're baseless. ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa also rubbished Sooklal’s assertion that Thales paid the ANC a million dollar bribe in 2004, saying there's no record of this.
These revelations could be vital in any future prosecution of the President, who largely attacked the thwarted case against him, saying it was driven by improper political motives.
Zuma has also said that former President Thabo Mbeki’s supporters drove the prosecution to stymie his leadership ambitions.
To date, the President has not dealt substantively with findings that his financial advisor Schabir Shaik bribed him for political favours and influence, or answered to evidence that he was in the pocket of Thint/Thales.
Meanwhile, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has never denied it had a strong case against Zuma. The team who prosecuted the President publicly disagreed with the decision to drop the case.
But the NPA now insists it's trying to appeal the ruling that he should be prosecuted on issues of legal principle.