French arms manufacturer Thales on Friday said it did not believe the company would get a fair trial in South Africa.
The company, which is cited as accused number two in the corruption case against former president Jacob Zuma, insisted in a statement that it knew nothing of any bribes paid to the former president to secure the company lucrative contracts as part of South Africa’s arms deal.
Representations by the company to the National Director of Public Prosecutions on why the charges against it should be dropped were rejected this week.
“Thales intends to consider all legal options available to it under South African law in order to present its defence to the charges in this procedure commenced as far back as 2006,” the statement said.
“Bearing in mind the very long delay of this procedure – through no fault of Thales at all – together with a range of factors beyond its control, Thales believes it cannot obtain a fair trial, as it is entitled to under the South-African Constitution and international law.”
The company, through its legal team, indicated in proceedings in the High Court in Pietermaritzburg on Friday that it would lodge an application for a permanent stay of prosecution. Zuma’s legal team indicated the same.
“Thales reiterates that it has no knowledge of any transgressions having been committed by any of its employees in relation to the awarding of the contract for the combat systems for South Africa’s corvettes (the Arms Deal in 1999),” it said.
“Thales respects the law, has a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and has cooperated fully with the local authorities at all times, and will continue to do so.”
Zuma is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption, one count of money laundering and 12 counts of fraud for allegedly receiving bribe money from Thales via his former financial adviser, Shabir Shaik.
Thales is facing one count of racketeering, two counts of corruption and one count of money laundering.