French Scorpene probe points fingers at Malaysian officials, says Suaram
By Clara Chooi
April 20, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — French prosecutors have uncovered evidence to prove the involvement of Malaysian officials in multimillion ringgit worth of commission as kickbacks for the sale of two Scorpene submarines to Malaysia, Suaram revealed today.
Malaysia paid RM6.7 billion in 2009 for the two submarines of which RM574 million was earmarked for co-ordination and support services for Perimekar Sdn Bhd, owned by Prime Minister Najib Razak’s close associate Abdul Razak Baginda. Abdul Razak is being sought as a witness in the French case.
A Scorpene on patrol. — Picture courtesy of shaktiraj25.blogspot.com
“Investigations on the French side so far have provided sufficient evidence to point fingers at specific Malaysian officials’ involvement in the Scorpene commissions,” the human rights group’s lawyer Joseph Breham said in a statement here.
“For us to arrive at this stage of the hearing is a gigantic step in the pursuit of the Scorpene commissions, one of the biggest corruption scandals in Malaysia in recent years.”
The group said its members successfully filed a formal complaint with a Paris tribunal yesterday against Malaysia’s failure to address the serious allegations of kickbacks involving the government, suggesting a deliberate suppression of information to keep the issue under wraps.
Suaram board member Dr Kua Kia Soong, who is among two other members currently in Paris for the matter, told the tribunal that the hopes of Malaysians currently rest on the hearing in France as all other avenues in Malaysia have been exhausted.
Among others, Dr Kua listed the murder trial of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, the “ineffectual” Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the “lack of transparency” in parliamentary replies over the alleged Scorpene commissions.
“But from what has been made available to Suaram now as the complainant in this case, sufficient evidence is now available to incriminate specified Malaysian officials,” the group said.
During the meeting at the Tribunal Grande instance de Paris at 3pm French time yesterday, investigative judge Roger Le loire had asked Suaram for a list of potential witnesses as the case proceeds.
Among others, Suaram proposed Abdul Razak, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, Altantuya’s father Dr Setev Shaariibuu, Jasbir Singh Chahl, Tan Sri Lodin and Mazlinda.
Abdul Razak was alleged to be Altantuya’s one-time lover. During her murder trial, he was acquitted of a charge of abetting two Special Action Squad members — Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar — to commit the murder in 2006.
Last week, Setev Shaariibuu told a press conference in Petaling Jaya that he had offered himself as a witness in the Scorpene submarine probe, claiming that his testimony would be able to “connect the dots” between her death and the Scorpene” case.