LGE CORRUPTION CHARGES: BEST LET THE COURT DECIDE

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 31 July 2018

The High Court has fixed Sept 3 for the prosecution to decide if they will withdraw or proceed with corruption charges against Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon. This was after Counsel Ramkarpal Singh Deo, representing Lim informed the court that the representation by the accused to review the charges had been submitted to the Attorney-General’s Chambers. The AG is now in an unenviable ethical dilemma: to drop the charges and face the accusations of partiality or to let the court case proceed so that justice is seen to be done…

Continue reading “LGE CORRUPTION CHARGES: BEST LET THE COURT DECIDE”

TRANSPARENCY MEANS ASSET DECLARATIONS BY ALL PUBLIC OFFICIALS

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 28 June 2018

The torrid exposure of the ostentatious wealth seized from the residencies of the former Prime Minister and the mantra of transparency by the new PH government points to the urgent need for full asset declarations by all public officials. To presume that corruption and ostentatious wealth are only afflictions that affect BN and not PH politicians is the ultimate in naivete.

Continue reading “TRANSPARENCY MEANS ASSET DECLARATIONS BY ALL PUBLIC OFFICIALS”

WHAT RAZAK BAGINDA’S INDICTMENT MEANS

Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 3 Aug 2017

Although Razak Baginda has not been charged in the French court, it is confirmed that he has been indicted for the following offences on 18 July 2017 : complicity of bribery (‘corruption active’) and acceptance of bribes (‘corruption passive’) AND  “concealment of misuse of company assets”. If the examining judge decides there is a valid case against a suspect, the accused is sent for adversarial trial by jury. The examining judge does not sit on the trial court which tries the case.

What the indictment means is that there is enough strong evidence for the judge to think that he is party to the crimes noted in the above charges. It is likely that Razak Baginda has already been heard by the judge otherwise he couldn’t be officially indicted.

The indictment is a measure severe enough to justify an International arrest warrant. In this case, if Razak Baginda is in Malaysia, he probably won’t be extradited. But if he’s in Great Britain, then there is an agreement and GB could/should extradite Razak Baginda.

SCORPENE SCANDAL RESURFACES, SUARAM VINDICATED

The Scorpene submarines scandal involving suspected commissions paid to Malaysian defence officials in the French submarines sale in 2002 has already led to an indictment issued against the former boss of an international subsidiary of Thales, suspected of having corrupted then Defence Minister and the present Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Bernard Baiocco,  the former president of Thales International Asia (Thint Asia) 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.

SUARAM’s complaint to the French authorities in November 2009 had started a preliminary inquiry and a judicial investigation opened in Paris in 2012. Searches by the French police at Thales and DCNS offices had led to the seizure of numerous documents. After six long years of investigations, this first indictment of the arms maker shows that SUARAM’s suspicion of commissions paid to Malaysian officials in the Scorpene deal is well founded and we have been vindicated.

The sale of two Scorpene submarines and a sub Marino Agosta to Malaysia was the most expensive military procurement by Malaysia to date, costing nearly five billion ringgit for the hardware plus more than two billion ringgit for the training of operatives and maintenance of the submarines.

The French judges have been examining contracts which they suspect of being used to pay for bribes. One of these, referred to as “C5 commercial engineering” 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 show 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.

All this time, the Malaysian government has not told parliament or the public about the existence of Terasasi (Abdul Razak Baginda’s other company) and that it had a share of the spoils from the purchase of the submarines. The government has only tried to justify the payments to Perimekar. The existence of Terasasi and payments it received only emerged when the French prosecutors’ documents came to light. It is time the Malaysian government reveals the role that Terasasi played in the Scorpene deal.

Murder allegation against Razak Baginda as well

The Scorpene scandal has been 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.

After the sensational revelation in ‘Murder in Malaysia’ that was telecast by Al Jazeera all over the world in September 2015, I cannot see any alternative but for Razak Baginda to sue Al Jazeera for this very grievous allegation that Sirul has accused Razak of killing Altantuya. If Razak Baginda fails to do so, he will be condemned to live the rest of his life with this murder allegation hanging over his head.

This is a very serious charge indeed and a completely new piece of evidence – if corroborated by Sirul – which promises to bring us closer to the yet unsolved murder of the Mongolian lass Altantuya. Remember Razak Baginda had only been charged with ABETMENT in the murder trial of Altantuya. He managed to be acquitted of this charge but with this new piece of evidence he could face the murder charge itself.

Anomalies in the case

In 2013, Karpal Singh who was representing the father of the murdered victim Altantuya had protested against the fact that the prosecution was dragging its feet on the appeal against the acquittal of two former police commandos for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu. He said the Attorney General’s Chambers could file its petition of appeal and state reasons why the Court of Appeal was wrong when it acquitted the two policemen based on the written grounds of the judgment. There was no need to wait for the entire appeal records to file the petition of appeal.

Chief inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar had walked out free men after the appeal against their High Court convictions were allowed at the Appeal Court. The policemen, formerly with the Special Action Unit (UTK), had been found guilty of murdering Altantuya in 2006. Razak Baginda, who was Altantuya’s lover, was acquitted by the High Court for abetment without his defence being called.

Karpal’s client, Setev Shaariibuu (Altantuya’s father) had filed a RM100-million suit against Abdul Razak, Azilah, Sirul and the government over his daughter’s death. In 2013, Karpal had said the public prosecutor should apply to detain the policemen pending the outcome of the appeal. The subsequent absence of one of the defendants, Sirul from the Federal Court appeal shows how prescient he was and how laggard the prosecution has been in the whole case.

A three-man bench at the Appeal Court, chaired by Datuk Seri Mohamad Apandi Ali had said in their judgment, among other things, the prosecution’s failure to call DSP Musa Safri, a former aide-de-camp of Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had weakened the prosecution’s case. There was clearly a mistrial at the High Court where the motive for the murder was not obtained.

Among the “strange” twists to the Altantuya murder case was the sudden removal of the presiding judge before the trial started without giving a plausible explanation to the lawyers, not to mention the head of the prosecution team was changed at the eleventh hour. Finally, defence lawyers for the three accused kept changing with one walking out on the first day of hearing, charging that “third parties” were interfering in his work.

Public doubt, however, worsened after both defence lawyers and prosecutors cut off a witness (Altantuya’s cousin) from testifying further when she revealed that the victim had shown her a photograph of herself, Baginda, then defence minister and “others” having lunch in a Paris restaurant.  The court too did not ask the witness to produce the photograph.

Nothing short of a full inquiry

With the latest indictment of Razak Baginda by the French court, nothing short of a full public inquiry into the Altantuya murder and the motive for her murder will do. This extends beyond the remit of the MACC. This inquiry has to cover the allegations of commissions paid for the purchase of the Scorpene submarines. The prosecution of the case has been tardy from the start, with the failure to establish the motive for Altantuya’s murder being the most questionable of all. Through the case, the labored attempts by both prosecution and defence to obstruct the probe into any involvement of then defence minister were also most bewildering.

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” the political analyst. To date, we have had no adequate response by 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.

Joint Statement – A FRENCH INDICTMENT IS A CHARGE, AND RAZAK BAGINDA HAS BEEN INDICTED

 

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA (SUARAM) & THE CENTER TO COMBAT CORRUPTION & CRONYISM (C4 CENTER), welcome the recent developments in the Scorpene inquiry being conducted at Tribunal deGrande Instance, in Paris.

We congratulate investigating judge Roger LeLoire for his determination and diligence in arriving at such critical outcomes and bringing the inquiry to new turning points, 5 years since the investigations started.

On 1 August 2017, news broke that key negotiator to the deal Abdul Razak Baginda was indicted for active and passive complicity to corruption and abuse of corporate assets. The reports of the indictment were confirmed by our French lawyer, William Bourdon, who took a break from his summer vacation, to talk with us briefly.

He informed us that investigating judge Mr LeLoire has written a separate 11 page judgment on the grounds for Razak Baginda’s indictment and rationale for pressing criminal charges against him. Mr Bourdon has informed us that his office will obtain this document upon returning from his leave.

“Baginda has been indicted. That is confirmed on 18 July 2017. An investigating judge has the powers to press criminal charges, against suspects he finds has violated French laws, in this case the OECD convention as well. There should not be any doubts to this, as France has a 2-tier court system. All indicted persons will be brought before a higher court, when this inquiry completes shortly”, Mr Bourdon told us over the telephone yesterday evening.

The indictment of Baginda has confirmed our greatest fears that grand corruption has taken place and that millions of Malaysians tax payers’ money have been swindled, through the procurement of the arms deal back in 2002.

It has moved the inquiry at the French tribunal to a critical turning point, that requires immediate and urgent cooperation by the Malaysian government, to oblige its commitment under the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC), to extend its cooperation to France and commit to resolve this case and bring the corrupt offenders to face justice and account to the Malaysian people.

It is no longer tenable for the Malaysian authorities to dismiss the Scorpene deal as above board and keep silent on the damning developments in France, given that a key Malaysian official and negotiator in the deal has been pressed with preliminary criminal charges, pointing to massive cross border corruption.

As Prime Minister Najib was the Defence Minister that signed on the contract then, we urge for him to answer, for what happened then, and what would be the steps taken by Malaysian institutions, particularly the MACC and the Attorney General’s chambers.

Let this not be another 1MDB.

Released By

Cynthia Gabriel                                                          Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director, C4 CENTER                                Executive Director, SUARAM
012-3792189                                                              016-9708370

 

CIVIL SOCIETY SAYS AYE TO RCIS ON 1MDB, BMF AND FOREX LOSSES

CIVIL SOCIETY SAYS AYE TO RCIS ON 1MDB, BMF AND FOREX LOSSES
Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser, 9 Feb 2017

At last, the two political coalitions in the country have been forced through their grandstanding to call for Royal Commissions of Inquiry (RCIs) into three of the worst financial scandals in recent Malaysian history. Pakatan Harapan has of course been calling for an RCI into the most recent 1MDB scandal that has made international headlines. To get at the former Prime Minister and new member of Pakatan Harapan, Dr Mahathir, the BN Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak has called for an RCI to look into the Bumiputera Malaysia Finance Limited (BMF) and Bank Negara foreign exchange (forex) scandals as these equally big financial scandals have never been investigated by an RCI and charges imposed.

Malaysian civil society says Aye to both these calls since the government can never regain the trust of the people until these three multi-billion financial losses have been accounted for and the negligent and corrupt leaders have been brought to account.

1MDB

The first RCI should investigate the current financial scandal around 1MDB. 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), the state investment fund has come under investigation for alleged impropriety after reports emerged that investigators traced some US$700 million wired into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank accounts. 1MDB was 42 billion ringgit in debt at the time of the scandal. Investigations by the US Department of Justice has uncovered the fact that insiders siphoned off billions of dollars and treated themselves to penthouse apartments in New York, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills and paintings by Monet and Van Gogh. An independent RCI can uncover who authorized these enormous sums of taxpayers’ money to be abused in this way and recommend appropriate convictions of the corrupt and negligent.

Forex losses in the 90s

There has also been no RCI into the colossal forex losses as a result of speculation by Bank Negara in the international currency markets from 1992-1994, with the losses cited as ranging from RM10 billion to RM30 billion. Such a RCI can determine the actual extent of the colossal forex losses and whether there had been any financial malpractices and abuses by then Prime Minister, Finance Minister and Bank Negara Governor in view of the inconsistencies and conflicting explanations about the colossal forex losses. The RCI should recommend the appropriate charges for those who abused their powers.

The BMF Scandal in the 80s

One of the first scandals soon after Mahathir came into office in the 80s was the RM2.5 billion scandal in Bumiputra Malaysia Finance, a Hong Kong based subsidiary of state-owned Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Berhad. Besides the wide range of shady dealings involving the Carrian Group, the sordid details included the murder of a BBMB auditor who had gone to Hong Kong to investigate the propriety of the loans. No RCI has thoroughly investigated this scandal to see who in Kuala Lumpur had authorized those shady deals and recommended the appropriate charges against those responsible for this massive financial scandal.

Other financial scandals of the 80s and 90s

There have been other financial scandals including the $600 million losses suffered by the country over the Maminco-Makuwasa tin caper on 19 Nov 1986, the “piratisation” of the North-South Highway in 1987, the bail out of Mirzan Mahathir’s Konsortium Perkapalan Bhd as well as Renong during the 1997 financial crisis, Perwaja Steel’s RM9 billion liabilities.

No trust if there is impunity

Malaysian civil society demands social justice, democracy and human rights and there is no place for impunity. Impunity is especially common in countries that do not respect the rule of law, that suffers from corruption and have entrenched systems of patronage, or where the judiciary is weak. The First Principle of the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights through Action to Combat Impunity, submitted to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 8 February 2005 states that:

“Impunity arises from a failure by States to meet their obligations to investigate violations; to take appropriate measures in respect of the perpetrators, particularly in the area of justice, by ensuring that those suspected of criminal responsibility are prosecuted, tried and duly punished; to provide victims with effective remedies and to ensure that they receive reparation for the injuries suffered; to ensure the inalienable right to know the truth about violations; and to take other necessary steps to prevent a recurrence of violations.”