A Malaysian rights group said on Wednesday it filed complaints to French prosecutors that allege shipbuilder DCNS paid kickbacks to a friend of Malaysia’s prime minister to aid a US$1.2 billion submarine deal.
Malaysia ordered two diesel-electric Scorpene submarines in 2002 as part of a naval upgrade. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was defense minister at the time.
Rights group Suaram said it filed two complaints in December last year and February with French prosecutors. The complaint centers on a 114 million euro (US$150 million) fee paid by DCNS to Malaysian firm Perimekar Sdn Bhd to facilitate the deal, Suaram official Cynthia Gabriel said.
Perimekar is owned by the wife of Abdul Razak Baginda, who once was Najib’s aide and a close friend and who was last year acquitted of abetting the murder of his former mistress, a Mongolian woman.
The case could embarrass Najib, who is struggling to consolidate his power a year after taking office. Although the opposition has long accused the government of corruption in the sub deal, this is the first legal action, albeit in a foreign country.
Joseph Breham, a French lawyer hired by Suaram, said French prosecutors agreed early last month to launch a preliminary inquiry into possible corruption and kickbacks paid by DCNS to Perimekar.
This was based on grounds that Perimekar was formed only a few months before the contract was inked, had no track record in submarine services and didn’t have the financial ability to support the contract, he said.
In Paris, a French judicial official confirmed an investigation of DCNS on suspicion of corruption and tax fraud was launched after Suaram filed a complaint in December.
Police suspect a DCNS subsidiary, Armaris, paid Perimekar to help with the submarine deal, he said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
Gabriel said the fact that French prosecutors have launched an inquiry into the case showed a “lack of transparency and good governance” in Malaysia.
“For far too long, this has been shrouded in secrecy. It looks as if Perimekar was just formed to receive the money. Where did the money go and to whom? We want to know the truth,” she told reporters.
She did not say why the complaint was filed only now, eight years after the deal was made.
Najib has denied there was any corruption. Malaysian defense officials have said the fee was paid to Perimekar for coordination and support services.
DCNS spokesman Emmanuel Gaudez declined to comment, and Malaysian defense ministry officials couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Gabriel said Suaram will take legal action against Perimekar and the government in Malaysia if the French court rules there is corruption by DCNS.
Malaysia received its first DCNS submarine last year. The second vessel is to be delivered this year.
Breham said if French prosecutors find sufficient evidence, the case will go before a court but it is likely to last years. Similar allegations of corruption have been made against DCNS in Paris for its arms deals in Pakistan and Taiwan, he said.
EVOLVING SITUATION: Of the latest cases, 23 percent were found to be asymptomatic, but the coronavirus strain in Da Nang is more contagious, authorities said A COVID-19 outbreak that began in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang more than a week ago has spread to at least four city factories with a combined workforce of about 3,700, state media reported yesterday. Four cases were found at the plants in different industrial parks in the central city that collectively employ 77,000 people, the Lao Dong newspaper said. Vietnam, praised widely for its decisive measures to combat the novel coronavirus since it first appeared in late January, is battling new clusters of infection having gone for more than three months without detecting any domestic transmissions. Authorities yesterday reported one new
‘COVIDIOTS’: Politicians condemned the protest that came amid surging infections in the country, while a marcher said government-induced fear weakened the body Loudly chanting their opposition to masks and vaccines, thousands of people on Saturday gathered in Berlin to protest against COVID-19 restrictions before being dispersed by police. Police put turnout at about 20,000 — well below the 500,000 organizers had announced as they urged a “day of freedom” from months of virus curbs. Despite Germany’s comparatively low toll, authorities are concerned at a rise in infections over the past few weeks and politicians took to social media to criticize the rally as irresponsible. “We are the second wave,” shouted the crowd, a mixture of hard left and right and conspiracy theorists, as they converged
A cat that went missing on a family holiday on the shores of Loch Lomond, Scotland, has been identified 12 years later. Tortoiseshell-and-white Georgie spent October half term in 2008 with her owners at the Rowardennan campsite, but vanished as they were due to return home to Greater Manchester, England. After a search of the site the Davies family departed without Georgie, hoping the three-year-old microchipped feline would be located by someone. Over the intervening 12 years, she remained close to the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park site, being fed and cared for by campsite staff and holidaymakers. After the COVID-19 pandemic hit and lockdown
Three Micronesian sailors stranded on a remote Pacific island have been found alive and well after a rescue team spotted their giant SOS message written into the sand on a beach. Australian and US military aircraft found the three men on tiny Pikelot island, nearly 200km west of where they had set off. Rescuers said that the men were “in good condition” with no significant injuries. The men had been missing for three days after their 7m skiff ran out of fuel and strayed off course. Authorities in the US territory of Guam raised the alarm on Saturday after the men failed to complete