In November 1998, the South African ANC government announced it would prioritise Saab’s offer, despite the need for 28 Gripen jets being questioned.
A decisive factor was support from the union Numsa and the movement Sanco. By December 1999 CEO of Saab, at the time, Bengt Halse, had signed the Gripen contract with South Africa. Six months earlier he had signed two other contracts for Saab, this time with Numsa and Sanco, both signed by Moses Mayekiso, a well-known union leader.
Prior to the state Seriti Commission, a leading critic Terry Crawford-Browne said he had information of suspect transactions between Saab and Mayekiso, with the aim of paying bribes to MPs to back the arms deal. This has not been proven and Saab denies the allegations.
SvD has now seen the previously confidential agreements. The second, with Numsa, was signed by Mayekiso, raising the question why, as Numsa was represented by other people. He also signed the contract as “industrial co-ordinator for Sweden”. When SvD speaks to Mayekiso, he says that he was a negotiator. He also refuses to answer if he was acting on behalf of Saab or the Numsa, or whether he was paid.
Meanwhile, Bengt Halse says that he does not know who Moses Mayekiso is, and does not remember him.
The verdict of Vänersborg district court was a success for all seven accused in the Saab trial into financial crimes. All, including chair of the board of Saab Victor Muller and CEO Jan Åke Jonsson, were acquitted of all charges.
Lawyer defending head lawyer Kristina Geers, Per E Samuelsson, says that the verdict is not a surprise and he is strongly critical of the process. “It is not rational to spend so much time and resources on something that interferes so much with so many individuals when there is no crime,” he says and assesses that it cost taxpayers over 10 million kronor.
Head prosecutor Olof Sahlgren says that he did not expect this outcome.
The Swedish Armed Forces has placed an order worth SKr 3.2 billion with the Saab defence group for the development of a new generation of anti-ship missiles. The new Gripen E fighter aircraft will be fitted with the missiles, as will the Visby class corvettes.
While Finland faces no immediate military threat, the country is not naïve, says Jussi Niinistö, the defence minister to business daily Dagens Industri. With military activity increasing in the Baltic region in recent years, Finland is increasing the speed with which it can mobilise its forces. The country is also planning to invest billions in new fighter jets and warships in the coming years.
Finland has sent requests for information regarding the replacement of Hornet aircraft to Britain, France, Sweden and the United States, and Saab’s Anders Garberg is doing all he can to ensure Finland selects the Gripen.
Talking to Dagens Industri, he assesses Saab’s chances of winning the tender as good; the Gripen is the most modern fighter among the competitors, it has lower operational costs and is made for Nordic conditions. Additionally, Saab hopes to win the contract by offering jobs in Finland.
The federal prosecution authority in Brazil has accused ex-president Liz Ignácio “Lula” da Silva of a number of crimes including influence trafficking, money laundering and organised crime between 2013 and 2015. The authority claims the improprieties led the Brazilian government to choose to purchase 36 JAS Gripen planes from Saab.
Accusations have also been made against Lula’s son, Luiz Cláudio Lula da Silva, and the Brazilian lobbyist Mauro Marcondes and engineer Cristina Mautoni who together own the lobbying firm M&M. Former president Lula is said to have influenced the government to the advantage of companies including Saab.
Brazilian newspaper O Globo reports that the prosecutors wrote that the lobbyists received over 2.5 million reais (around 7.5 million kronor), which was then transferred to Lula da Silva. They claim that Saab gave 1.84 million euros to M&M and write there is a great deal of evidence to support the accusation. “There is an intensive exchange of emails between employees of M&M and Lula Institute which aim to facilitate a meeting between Lula and the future Swedish prime minister Stefan Löfven.”
Saab denies participating in improprieties.
On Wednesday munitions group Saab provided a status update for the next generation of submarines, A26, being built at Karlskrona.
Planned delivery for the submarines, which are to have a multi-mission portal in the hull for divers and underwater vehicles to enter and exit the boat, was 2022. However Saab now believes it could be earlier.
The contract is worth SKr 7.6 billion although Allan Widman (L), chair of the parliamentary committee on defence, reported defence minister Peter Hultqvist to the committee on the constitution for not releasing information about an export condition attached to the contract and criticised him for not informing them that the price could change. However Saab’s head of submarines, Gunnar Wieslander, is confident they will remain within budget.
Defence company Saab is expecting a dramatic lift if Donald Trump wins the US presidential election and frightens NATO countries into increasing their military spending. Even Hillary Clinton is clear in her election campaign that European NATO countries should contribute more.
“When you look at the countries that do not meet NATO’s target and what that is of their GDP then you can quickly see that the defence industry in Europe, and to some extent the USA, does not have the capacity to deliver in the case of sudden demand and a fast increase,” says Håkan Buskhe, CEO of Saab.
Donald Trump has said that countries that do not pay their part in NATO, two percent of GDP, cannot expect the USA’s support in the event of an attack.
The USA’s decision to remove the arms embargo on Vietnam could open the door for major Swedish arms deals with the country. This kind of deal has not previously been possible, as the embargo has included systems that have American components, such as the Gripen.
Christer Ahlström, director general for the Inspectorate of Strategic Products (ISP) says that it is theoretically possible but adds that any such deal must have Swedish approval. “We have had a restrictive view of Vietnam with our guidelines. We should also weigh up the situation for human rights,” he says.
Saab press spokesperson Sebastian Carlsson says that Saab is monitoring developments.
Defence company Saab has received a SKr 1.5 billion order from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV). The new lightweight torpedo system, which has been ordered for the Swedish Navy, will be able to be used by submarines, surface vessels and helicopters.
Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist (S) says, “This means that a project that was significantly delayed finally looks like it will be realised.” The system is expected to be complete and ready to go into service around 2022-2023.
Sweden’s new submarine A26, of which the state has ordered two from defence group Saab, has been harshly criticised. The criticism focuses on a portal, fiercely marketed by Saab, which can release divers and special forces into the water. Former commander and head of the three Swedish Näcken-class submarines, Nils Bruzelius, says that the portal cannot be used in the situations it is designed for.
However Mats Eolfsson, from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV), which has paid almost SKr 8 billion for the submarines, has dismissed the criticism saying the portal is flexible and could also be used for new weapons.