Swedish defence firm Saab has announced that it intends to investigate new allegations that a secret payment of over 50 million kronor was paid to an advisor in the deal to sell JAS Gripen aircraft to South Africa.
Responding to the allegation which emerged in a programme broadcast by TV4, Saab said that it was unable to find any payments.
“We need to look deeper into this and we are looking seriously at it,” said Saab’s CEO Håkan Buskhe to the TT news agency.
TV4 Nyheterna and Kalla Fakta, the broadcaster’s main news and current affairs programmes, have come across an agreement and has been loose agreement between Sanip, Saab’s subsidiary in South Africa, and the key advisor Fana Hlongwane.
Sanip is a collaboration between Saab and British BAE. While the company is 100 percent owned by Saab, the Swedish defence firm argued that BAE effectively controlled Sanip on its own.
The agreement between Sanip head Bernard Collier and Hlongwane was signed on September 10th 2003. It gives the South African the right to draw a salary and a bonus of at least $8 million on the completion of the major arms deal.
According to a bank statement Sanip paid him a total of approximately 50 million kronor on 19 separate occasions between 2003 to 2005, according to TV4/ Kalla Fakta.
In addition, documents show that it is about another 30 million that will be disbursed this year.
The new information about the South Africa deal comes just as Saab’s CEO Håkan Buskhe is in Brazil in the context of trying to sell the new generation of JAS Gripen.
On Tuesday evening Buskhe attending a seminar organised by the governor of Sao Paulo.
Buskhe told TT’s reporter that the firm was unable to finad any evidence that the money had been paid out.
“We can’t find that we made any payments from the company to this person. We need to look deeper into this and we are looking seriously at it,” he said.
He underlined that the firm would welcome media inspection of Saab’s documentation.
“We have no reason to play any hide and seek game,” he said.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, was cautious in commenting on the new material.
“We have learned to distinguish between allegations and that which is legally punishable. Thus you can always legally examine what might have been done for possible errors. If you have information of that kind, it must reasonably be the company that has been identified that also gets to respond to it.
The allegations that Saab is suspected of having bribed Hlongwane is nothing new in itself. Criminal investigations have been instigated in the three countries involved have hitherto not led anywhere.