Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 24 July 2020

I have just been served a notice to give a written statement to MACC officers on 28 July 2020 at 12pm at SUARAM’s office. I believe two other Suaram former personnel Cynthia Gabriel and Fadiah have also been served the notice. The officer told me yesterday it concerns the Scorpene corruption case that has been an on-going judicial investigation in France since 2012.

The RM7 billion Scorpene deal – RM5 billion for hardware, RM2 billion for training and maintenance – was signed in 2002 when Malaysia’s Prime Minister was Dr Mahathir Muhamad and Najib Razak was his Defence Minister. After the murder of Altantuya Sharibu in 2006 and the fact that the motive for her murder was not investigated in the murder trial, even though allegations had surfaced regarding suspected bribery of Malaysian officials by DCN, the French company that had sold two Scorpene submarines to Malaysia for US$1 billion. Besides, 114 million Euros were reportedly paid to a shell company of Altantuya’s former lover, Razak Baginda, a confidant of then Defence Minister Najib Razak. It was on these grounds that SUARAM made a complaint to the French judiciary on 19th November 2009.

SUARAM’s complaint to the French authorities started a preliminary inquiry and a judicial investigation opened in Paris in 2012. Then on 19 April 2012, I, on behalf of SUARAM was asked to make a presentation before the judge at the Court de Grand Instance de Paris.

Searches by the French police at Thales and DCNS offices had led to the seizure of numerous documents. According to documents obtained by Asia Sentinel in 2013, then French Finance Minister Alain Juppe and then Malaysian PM Mahathir were aware of the bribes having been made.

After six long years of investigations, this first indictment on 15 December 2015 of the arms maker DCN showed that SUARAM’s suspicion of commissions paid to Malaysian officials in the Scorpene deal were well founded and were vindicated: Bernard Baiocco,  the former president of Thales International Asia (Thint Asia), a subsidiary of DCN was indicted before magistrate Roger Le Loire on 15 December 2016 for “active bribery of foreign public officials” including Najib Razak, then Minister of Defense, and one of his advisers, Abdul Razak Baginda. The former boss of Thint Asia, together with the Directorate of Naval Construction (DCN) who made the submarines was also indicted for complicity in misuse of corporate assets.

The French judges have been examining contracts which they suspect of being used to pay for bribes. One of these involved payment of 30 million euros by DCNI, a subsidiary of DCN to Thales International Asia, in respect of “selling expenses for export”. The French judicial investigations also showed that another company, Terasasi, whose main shareholder Razak Baginda then adviser to the Defence Minister Najib Razak, was paid almost the same amount for consultations. Investigators suspect these so-called “consultations” to be a front for bribes. In the investigations, another contract provided for the payment of 114 million euros to the Malaysian company Perimekar, the main contractor of the Scorpene deal.

The Scorpene scandal was fueled by the gruesome murder of Mongolian intermediary, Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006. According to the testimony of Razak Baginda’s private investigator, Altantuya was the mistress of Abdul Razak Baginda and she had been harassing him for a portion of the commission that had been promised her. In the cautioned statement by one of the two persons charged for Altantuya’s murder, Sirul Azhar told authorities he and Azilah had been offered RM100,000 to kill the woman who was causing embarrassment for Abdul Razak Baginda.

On 4 August 2017, Baginda was placed under formal investigation by the French judiciary. With the latest indictment of Razak Baginda by the French court, justice demands that nothing short of a full public inquiry into the Altantuya murder and the motive for her murder will suffice. This extends beyond the remit of the MACC. This inquiry must include investigation into the allegations of commissions paid for the purchase of the Scorpene submarines. The prosecution of the case has been tardy from the start, with their failure to establish the motive for Altantuya’s murder being the most questionable of all.

Razak Baginda’s affidavit in the trial had also maintained that “Azilah was responsible for the death of about six or more people and he would be able to help” according to the political analyst. To date, we have had no adequate response from the Malaysian Police to such a shocking revelation and whether a full-scale investigation has been launched to find out just who these “six or more” apparently victims of extrajudicial killings are.

I am sure Malaysians are encouraged by the fact that, nearly 20 years after the signing of the Scorpene contracts, the MACC has decided to pursue the scammers involved in the Scorpene scandal. We can only say “Bonne chance with the investigations MACC”!


  1. Very insightful article & post from SUARAM Adviser, Dr. Kua Kia Soong. I’ve read the post. UNCAC imposes upon nations the active promotion of the involvement of civil society and the prevention of corruption requires an effort from all members of society at large. As a member of Aliran & Friend of SUARAM, I’ll continuously pursue UNCAC’s promotion obligations with fellow members of civil society.

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