Inquiry given key to arms deal allegations
Confidential reports containing detailed information about people involved in the controversial multi-billion rand arms deal have been uncovered.
The existence of the reports was revealed at a closed meeting in Pretoria on Saturday of former Scorpions investigators and members of the Seriti Commission of Inquiry.
The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma to establish the truth behind the claims of fraud and corruption that have dogged the 1999 deal for more than a decade.
At the meeting, at the Sheraton Hotel, were former Scorpions investigators, specialist auditors and accountants, and top anti-corruption lawyers.
The lawyers included advocates Billy Downer, Gerda Ferreira and Johan du Plooy.
The three were instrumental in the successful prosecution of Zuma's former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik.
The information received on Saturday is said to show that earlier investigations into the arms deal were deliberately stonewalled, allegedly to protect high-ranking government officials.
A commission insider yesterday said that those at the meeting had provided important information.
"This meeting was invaluable. The commission's investigators were provided with the key needed to expose the corruption. It is the missing piece in a puzzle," he said.
He said the key was a number of reports "buried" deep inside four shipping containers.
"When the commission's investigators took over from the Hawks, they were given shipping containers [containing] documents which had been in the possession of the Hawks.
"Once [the containers were] opened, investigators were confronted with millions of documents relating to the inside workings of the deal.
"The problem was that nothing was indexed, numbered or filed properly," he said.
He said it was a paper mountain, that, without Saturday's meeting, could not be climbed.
"No one knew where to start ... a lot of the information could not be formed into the much-needed paper trail.
"These reports put everything together. They will be the nail in the coffin for a lot of government officials, international defence companies, and foreign and local businessmen," he said.
Asked if the way in which the commission had been given information was an attempt to thwart it, the insider said it was not clear.
"But, with this information, it will make sifting through these documents a lot easier."
He said that those who attended the meeting - who no longer work for law-enforcement agencies - were able to make full disclosures because they were not restricted by confidentiality agreements.
"Everything is now being carefully documented to ensure that nothing is 'lost' or accidentally disappears," said the insider.
Commission spokesman William Baloyi said "the meeting was of value" but refused to disclose the content of discussions.
The commission meets today to plan its next moves.