Documents revealed publicly for the first time on Friday (20 November 2015) confirm that King Mswati III of Swaziland personally paid US$9.5 million for a jet aircraft in 2012.
The government that he handpicked had publicly said the jet was donated by ‘development partners’.
The sale and purchase agreement contains the signature of King Mswati as the purchaser.
King Mswati, who rules the tiny impoverished kingdom of Swaziland as sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch, has been at the at the centre of a public row over the purchase of the jet.
Last Friday (13 November 2015) the Mail and Guardian (M&G), a South-African based newspaper published details of the aircraft purchase on its website.
Most of the M&G report was not new. In April 2015, the Swazi Media Commentary website revealed details behind the purchase. It reported that the King’s own company Inchatsavane paid the US$9.5 million cost of the McDonnel Douglas McDonnell Douglas DC-9-87 (also known as an MD-87). Later, a further US$4.1 million was spent on refurbishing the plane.
The Sale and Purchase Agreement for the plane dated 18 April 2012 stated the purchaser as Inchatsavane Company (Pty) Ltd. The agreement describes Inchatsavane as a ‘limited company formed under the law of Swaziland under certification of incorporation No 581 of 2010.’ The company’s office address is given as ‘1st Floor, Ellerines Building, Swazi Plaza, [Mbabane], Swaziland.’
King Mswati’s signature appears on the document as ‘sole shareholder / owner’ of the company. For the first time Swazi Media Commentary has released a copy of the document online.
The seller is given as Wells Fargo Bank Northwest, National Association, ‘not in its individual capacity but solely as owner trustee’.
A Bank of America Wire Transfer dated 26 April 2012, shows US$9.5 million dollars was transferred from the account of ‘His Majesty King Mswati III’, bank account number 0240037517401, at the Standard Bank Swaziland Ltd, Stanbic House, Swazi Plaza, Mbabane, Swaziland.
Swazi Media Commentary has also released online a copy of the bank transfer.
The money was transferred to McAfee and Taft escrow account in the United States. An ‘escrow’ account is a bank account for keeping money that is the property of others.
Under US law funds wired to an escrow account must come directly from the purchaser and not a parent, subsidiary, related company, officer, governor or director. King Mswati personally signed the escrow agreement. Swazi Media Commentary has for the first time released a copy of this document online.
What is not clear is where King Mswati got the money to pay for the jet. In 2012, the Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini, who was personally appointed to office by the King, said on government-controlled radio that the King had been given the jet as a birthday gift, ‘from development partners and friends of the King, to be used by their majesties for travels abroad’.
The Swazi Government denied public money had been used to buy the jet. Government spokesperson Percy Simelane was reported by the BBC saying the jet was a gift to the King from, ‘people already involved in the social and economic development of the country’.
There has been speculation that the jet was donated by Kuwait, but if this was the case it has not been explained why the oil-rich state made the gift and what it expected in return.
In April 2012, the Swazi Government categorically denied that the plane was donated by the Kuwait Government.
It issued a statement saying, ‘It is true that His Majesty the King received a gift in the form of a Mcdonnell DC-9 Aircraft for his and the Queen Mother’s travels abroad on engagement on national interest.
‘It is also true that the sponsors of this magnificent gift, exercising their rights, elected to remain anonymous.
‘It is not true that the Kuwait Government or countries and companies mentioned in the South Africa media purchased the aircraft for His Majesty the King or contributed in any form whatsoever towards this present.’
Seven in ten of the King’s 1.3 million subjects live in abject poverty, with incomes of less than US$2 per day, three in ten are so hungry they are medically diagnosed as malnourished and the kingdom has the highest rate of HIV infection in the world.
WHO PAID FOR SWAZI KING’S JET?
KING'S COMPANY AT CENTRE OF JET ROW