Court probing Razak’s role in Scorpene deal – Malaysiakini

by Malaysiakini

Suaram’s case filed in France against French naval company DCNS in 2011, on kickbacks allegedly paid out in Malaysia’s RM7.3 billion Scorpene submarine deal, is still “alive” according to a former director of the NGO, Cynthia Gabriel.As the case was filed during her tenure, she still maintains an interest in it.

Gabriel (right) said to the best of her knowledge, the NGO, which filed the case in Paris in 2011, had not abandoned the case.

She said the court was trying to confirm whether political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, who escaped trial and conviction for the murder of Mongolian national, Altantuya Shaariibuu, had acted in a formal capacity for Malaysia’s Defence Ministry.

Gabriel said so far, Abdul Razak, believed to be living in the United Kingdom now, was featured as a “friend or close ally” of Najib Abdul Razak, who at that time was deputy prime minister.

Najib, who is now Malaysia’s prime minister, was also defence minister during the procurement of the submarines, for which the deals were inked in 2002.

“There is no certainty that Abdul Razak had acted as a public sector officer. Whether he acted in a formal capacity for the Defence Ministry or as a friend of Najib, is now being determined by the court.

“His role was as the main negotiator in the procurement process,” said Gabriel, one of the founders of the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), an anti-graft watchdog.

She said Suaram had asked several legal bigwigs and professors of law to actually study the case, to determine if Najib’s aides, like Abdul Razak, can be subjected to the The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) convention.

The OECD convention only applies to wrongdoing by public sector officials.

“The Malaysian government should answer and collaborate with the French courts in this matter but so far they have not,” Gabriel claimed.

Alleged kickbacks

Suaram had alleged that DCNS paid 114.9 million Euro (RM452 million) in kickbacks to Perimekar Sdn Bhd –  a company partially owned by Abdul Razak, in the sale of two Scorpene-class submarines to Malaysia.

Both the government and the “architect” of the deal, one Jasbir Singh Chahl, had defended the Scorpene contract award, saying it was made on a transparent basis to “the technically most qualified party on a commercially competitive negotiated price.”

In an interview with Bernama, Jasbir had explained that the contract between the Malaysian government and Perimekar Sdn Bhd was for “defined scope of works”, and provision of such services was within commercial norms.

Bernama had reported that Jasbir said Perimekar was nominated as the local vehicle to spearhead the submarine project, while Terasasi Sdn Bhd (TSB) was incorporated to serve as an external service provider to advise and assist Thales.

Jasbir had also claimed that Altantuya, who was murdered by two former bodyguards of Najib in 2006, was not involved when the deal was negotiated and finally signed in 2002.

However, during the initial court case into her murder, Abdul Razak had revealed that Altantuya (right) was his lover, and had come to Malaysia to “blackmail” him.

Her father, Setev Shaariibuu had always asserted that his daughter acted as a translator for Abdul Razak and was allegedly involved in business deals with him.

Last week, the Federal Court upheld the decision of the High Court, to sentence to death two former police special action unit (UTK) members, former chief inspector Azilah Hadri and corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, for Altantuya’s murder although the motive for killing her has never been established.

Meanwhile, Gabriel pointed out that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was reported as applying to use the Mutual Legal Assistance Act (MLA) to get help from the French authorities in its probe into the Malaysia’s purchase of the subs.

Gabriel also revealed that the court had interviewed three French personnel and is planning to indict two of them; one was the financial director of DCNS, a shipyard builder based in Paris.

“He was found to have abused his power and violated the OECD convention, which prohibits commissions and kickbacks to public officials,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel is aware that there have been questions over Suaram’s expenses for the case, dubbed Ops Scorpene, but pointed out the updated accounts for 2013 is on the NGO’s website.

The last fundraising exercise Suaram did was in July 2013, and thebalance showed is RM30,598.88.