Jacob Zuma to face trial for money laundering, fraud, and racketeering

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 Former South African president Jacob Zuma, 75, will be facing 16 counts of corruption. The charges which Mr Zuma denies; include counts of fraud, racketeering and money laundering. Mr Zuma was forced to resign as president last month by his party, the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

The news was announced by the National Prosecuting Authority director Shaun Abrahams, who added that everyone is equal under the law. Abrahams said that he believes a trial court would be the most appropriate for issues like this, and that there are “reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr Zuma.” He said:

I am of the view that a trial court would be the most appropriate forum for these matters to be ventilated.
Justice must not only be done, but must also be seen to be done.

The charges relate to a 30bn rand ($2.5bn; £1.7bn) government arms deal in the late 1990s, before he became president.

Mr Zuma is alleged to have sought bribes from a French arms company to support an extravagant lifestyle. His financial adviser at the time was found guilty of soliciting those bribes in 2005 and Mr Zuma was later sacked as deputy president.

He now faces one charge of racketeering, two charges of corruption, one charge of money laundering and 12 of fraud.

 

Mr Zuma weathered an array of corruption allegations during his nine years in power. In 2016, a report by South Africa’s anti-corruption watchdog alleged that the billionaire Gupta family had exploited their ties with him to win state contracts.

Both the Guptas and Mr Zuma deny any wrongdoing.

The same year, South Africa’s highest court ruled that Mr Zuma had violated the constitution when he failed to repay government money spent on his private home.

An anti-corruption body found he had spent $23m (£15m) on refurbishments including a swimming pool and an amphitheatre. He has since repaid some of the money.

Zuma’s corruption charges: A brief history

  • First filed in 2005 when Mr Zuma’s financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, was jailed for fraud and corruption.
  • Mr Zuma went on trial in 2006 but the case collapsed when the prosecution said it was not ready to proceed more than a year after he was charged.
  • South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) controversially dropped the charges in 2009, shortly before he won the presidency.
  • Political opponents campaigned tirelessly for him to face trial.
  • South Africa’s High Court reinstated the charges in 2016 and Mr Zuma lost a Supreme Court appeal to overturn them.
  • The country’s chief prosecutor, Shaun Abrahams, has now decided to pursue a case against the former president.
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