“…Investigations so far have provided sufficient evidence to point our fingers at Malaysian officials in the judicial inquiry…”

Joseph Breham, French lawyer

SUARAM has been placed under the microscope of no less than 6 government agencies in recent months, and investigated for various allegations of wrongdoings. Leaders and key staff of SUARAM have been repeatedly summoned to the Companies Commissions and investigated by the police under S112 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

While these agencies have worked overzealously to look for non-existing faults, SUARAM continues to be the target of incessant attacks by GONGOs and pro-government groups alike, mercilessly demonized and tried in the mainstream media for numerous alleged wrongdoings; chief of which are our wide links with foreign interests, being recipients of Soros and other sources of foreign funding as well as registering ourselves as a company instead of a society.

The Barisan Nasional administration has gone into overdrive to discredit SUARAM and delegitimizing us in the eyes of the Malaysian public.

As has always been the case, our heavily skewed mainstream media, has almost never published our right of reply, and we suffer from the barrage of unsubstantiated reports published by them. For a relatively small human rights organization, which has existed for more than 23 years, such disproportionate attacks and bullying reflects the mindset of an insecure and desperate administration, hell bent on silencing critical voices in the lead up to the General Elections.

The last week however has seen the attacks on SUARAM shift from our various alleged wrongdoings, to something more specific : THE SCORPENE CASE. So the real reasons for harassment and intimidation have finally surfaced. SUARAM is being punished and vilified for its role as a whistleblower in the Scorpene case. Instead of investigating the complaints, SUARAM is being investigated instead.

And what better way than to have former French Head of Prosecution, Yves Charpenel who was in town for a conference, to say that there was “no trial” in France.

For ease of reference, Mr Charpenel’s statements are reproduced in the following:-

“…The media in Malaysia should be able to distinguish between rumours and facts, and between investigations and a trial…”

“…I am aware about all the fuss kicked up by certain media (organisations) in Malaysia over this but what I can say is that this is nothing more than a trial by the media…”

“…A trial is a trial with all the rules. Investigation is another thing…”

We wish to categorically clarify our position in the following:-

  1. It is a fact that the investigations on the Scorpene scandal has commenced. It is not a rumour;

  1. All previous statements issued by SUARAM have used the term ”judicial inquiry” and “criminal investigations” interchangeably;

  1. At no material time has SUARAM used the term “trial” in SUARAM’s statements to the public;

  1. A trial is different from an investigation;

  1. The investigation on the Scorpene scandal is being conducted in Paris and by no way conducted by the media in Malaysia let alone tried by the media in Malaysia;

  1. In all of statements in the past, we have maintained very clearly that the complaint filed by SUARAM at the end of 2009, had led French prosecutors to find sufficient prima facie evidence to allow the inquiry to move into the open courts for a deepened investigation;

  1. A judicial inquiry had commenced on 16 March 2012, and SUARAM was made a civil party to the case;

  1. The inquiry is being heard at the Tribunal de Grande Instance;

  1. Two judges were appointed to preside over the case; Roger Le Loire and Sergie Tournaire;

  1. SUARAM had testified before the judge on 19 April 2012;

  1. The investigative / instruction judges have the powers to investigate as well as hear witnesses as part of its tasks in presiding over the inquiry;

  1. A list of Malaysian witnesses was proferred to the judge who said he will decide on when to call upon these persons as the case develops;

  1. The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has no role in the ongoing judicial investigations as alleged by the Young Journalist Club Malaysia, despite SUARAM being a member in the human rights coalition;

  1. Mr Charpenel is a former Head of Prosecution;

  1. Mr Charpenel has no working knowledge on the Scorpene inquiry;

  1. To date, counsel for SUARAM had not been notified by the prosecutors that the Scorpene inquiry will not proceed to a full trial;

  1. Mr Charpenel had not been appointed as the prosecutor for the Scorpene inquiry; and

  1. Mr Charpenel was commenting on a subject of which he is unfamiliar with and hence, devoid of merit and authority.

At no material time had SUARAM misled the Malaysian public on the progress and facts of the SCORPENE case, as alleged by BN’s media.

We reiterate that the French judicial system differs widely from the British / Commonwealth system, hence a proper understanding is needed by discerning Malaysians, in order to understand the developments of the case. SUARAM shall not bear the responsibility of the misunderstandings and deliberate confusion being caused by various parties over the legalities of the case.

Major Elements in the Case

Highlights from the Investigation papers.

Former finance director of DCN, Gerarde Philippe Maneyas had made a claim for 32 million Euros allegedly used to bribe Malaysian officials for purchase of the Scorpenes. We know that at least 32 million Euros were paid by Thales International (Thint) Asia to Terasasi.

There is an invoice by Terasasi dated 1.10.2000 for 100,000 Euros. There is also an invoice from Terasasi to Thint Asia, dated 28.8.2004 for 359,450 Euros with a hand-written note saying : “Razak wants it in a hurry.”

With the new French law and OECD Convention against corruption in place after 2002, the French arms merchants had to find a way to pay commissions to their foreign clients. The method used was to create “service providers” that could “increase invoices” in order to take the place of commissions.

Intermediary countries were then used to facilitate payments. The companies used in the Malaysian case were” Gifen in Malta, Eurolux in Luxemburg and Technomar in Belgium. Among the ivoices uncovered were travel expenses of Baginda and Altantuya to Hong Kong and Macau. Parliamentarians in Malta have also questioned their governments for answers over the role of Malta in this case.

Thus, when the French state company DCN terminated its contracts, Thales took over as a private company, not involving the state. Thales International was appointed to coordinate the political connections.

A commercial engineering contract was then signed between DCNI and Thales, referred to as “C5”. It covered 30 million Euros in commercial costs abroad. Another “consulting agreement” was signed in 2000 between Thint Asia and Terasasi for 2.5 million Euros.

While we have been told about PERIMEKAR and its role, there has been a pin drop silence on the other company TERASASI. Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi denied having any knowledge on this company in his answers to Parliament last June. The taxpayers have the legitimate interest to know the role of TERASASI however, salient questions relating to the Scorpene scandal were met with silence. Until today, the government had yet to explain to the public the exact role of TERASASI. Perhaps the 6 agencies taskforce set up to investigate SUARAM should utilize its research materials and start looking into TERASASI.

Joseph Breham had in our joint press conference in Bangkok, also uncovered that a secret document was found in the Thales office, belonging to the Royal Malaysian Navy on the proposals linked to the submarines. Was this document sold to Thales with complete disregard to national secrets?

Questions remain unanswered.

Malaysia’s Legal Obligations Under the UN Anti Corruption Convention.

Malaysia as a signatory to the UNCAC since 2008, is now obliged to cooperate with other nation states in preventing, investigating and prosecuting offenders of corruption. State parties are bound to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court and to extradite offenders.

An overarching trend in the fight against trans-border corruption is universal jurisdiction. This means a country can bring to trial and prosecute in that country those accused of having committed a crime in another country.

The SCORPENE submarine scandal provides the platform for universal jurisdiction to be applied. By ratifying the UNCAC, Malaysia has signaled to the world our willingness to submit to an international framework of cooperation.

The question is, will the MACC kick-start an investigation on the Scorpene scandal? Can the full facts be told in the Parliament and released to the public?

The attacks launched against SUARAM, as the whistleblower in the Scorpene Inquiry is a reflection of a desperate government who have realized the magnitude and impact of the Scorpene deal. SUARAM reiterates the need for Malaysian public institutions to function independently and effectively in promoting good governance and combating corruption.

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