South Africa’s main opposition party said on Tuesday it wants police to investigate the investment arm of the ruling party after Hitachi paid to settle a US investigation into improper payments made to the South African government.
Hitachi agreed on Monday to pay $19 million to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission charges that it inaccurately recorded improper payments to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) related to contracts to build two multi-billion dollar power plants.
Hitachi did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.
The SEC said the accord resolves civil charges that Tokyo-based Hitachi violated the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by booking about $6 million of improper payments it made as “consulting fees” and other legitimate payments.
“This is clearly an admission of de facto corruption that implicates the ANC – a party that has infected government at every level with corruption,” the Democratic Alliance’s leader Mmusi Maimane said in a statement.
“The DA will therefore be laying criminal charges against Chancellor House for this unlawful activity,” it added.
Moments after the Hitachi statement came out, Chancellor House managing director Mamatho Netsianda dismissed the SEC allegations as a “big lie”, telling Reuters that there had been no payments. Chancellor House is the investment arm of the ANC.
The Hitachi case is the latest corruption scandal to hit the ANC, which is still reeling from accusations it paid a $10 million bribe to win hosting rights for the 2010 World Cup. The DA called last week for a criminal investigation to be opened into the World Cup bribe allegations, which the ANC deny.
Thousand of South Africans are due to join an anti-corruption march on Wednesday, in what civil society groups are calling the biggest protest against graft since the ANC came to power after the end of apartheid.
President Jacob Zuma’s ANC, which is still nationally dominant 21-years after the end of white-minority rule, is expected to be pushed hard in some local elections next year, including in Gauteng, home to economic-hub Johannesburg.
Julius Malema, a former ANC youth leader and now the combative head of the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters, lay into the ANC’s record on corruption on Tuesday and pledged to end the ruling party’s dominance at next year’s vote.
“Corruption in the ANC is not punishable, in fact it’s rewarded. That’s how the ANC are running our country,” Malema said at an event held by the US Chamber of Commerce in Johannesburg.