Saturday 16 July 2011

Third commission paid for Scorpene subs: Suaram

Come next Thursday, Malaysians would get to hear first-hand from a French lawyer that even "bigger" commissions were paid to "extremely high level" government officials in Malaysia related to the purchase of two submarines in 2002.

Penangites would be ahead of those in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh to hear lawyer William Bourdon spills the beans on the controversial deal with French company DCNS in a fundraising event dubbed 'Ops Scorpene'.

KL-based human rights NGO Suaram is organising a dinner in Bayan Baru where besides Bourdon, its board member Cynthia Gabriel, DAP national adviser Lim Kit Siang, PKR vice-president Tian Chua and PAS deputy president Mohammed Sabu will speak.

cynthia gabriel and unknown man ops scorpeneAccording to Gabriel (left in photo), new evidence points to the issuing of a third commission which is "bigger" than the earlier ones paid out to a Malaysian consulting company called Perimekar Sdn Bhd.

"The details would be revealed at the lawyer's exclusive presentation in the dinner events," said Gabriel at a press conference in Penang yesterday.

"I cannot reveal much but would encourage everyone to attend the event," she added.

"We are shocked that there are many more commissions being paid out to unidentified government officials in the country... and these are top officials," she lamented.

razak baginda acquitted 311008 09Perimekar is a subsidiary of KS Ombak Laut Sdn Bhd, and the major shareholder in this obscure company is allegedly political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda's wife, Maslinda Makhzan.

Abdul Razak is the close associate of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who was defence minister when the multi-billion ringgit submarine deal was negotiated.

He was charged in 2006 with abetting two police officers, who were Najib's bodyguards, in the gruesome murder of Mongolian national and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, believed to be his mistress.

Abdul Razak, head of a pro-government think-tank, was acquitted in 2007 without his defence being called. The two police officers have since been convicted of murder and are now on death row.

Altantuya-Abdul Razak's trip to HK

On Monday, Suaram disclosed travelling details of Abdul Razak and Altantuya to Hong Kong, after it revealed a trip to Macau with another "mystery" individual related to negotiations over the deal.

Last year, Suaram through its lawyers in France - Bourdon and his team - filed a case with prosecutors in Paris over claims that French defence giant DCNS paid RM540 million in commission to Perimekar.

Payment of commissions is illegal under French laws.

NONEThe French probe revealed another 30 million euros (RM150 million) were paid to DCN's commercial network Thales and another 2.5 million euros (RM7.5 million) paid to an "unknown" recipient.

The Malaysian Defence Ministry has however denied that commissions were paid for the two submarines.

In a written parliamentary reply, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said that the government had only made payments to two contractors - France's DCNS and Spain's Navantia - for the construction of the submarines.

Perimekar on the other hand, was paid for "coordination services" for the Malaysian submarine crew, added Ahmad Zahid, who said he was ready to testify in court on the matter.

Funds needed for legal costs
Meanwhile, Cynthia said that Suaram was organising the dinner in the three cities to raise public awareness of how taxpayers funds are being spent on arms procurement in the country.

cynthia gabriel and ops scorpene"Everyone has the right to know the truth and seek answers about where our money goes when it comes to these arms deals," she told reporters in George Town.

"This is a campaign by Malaysians, not Suaram alone, to promote transparency in arms procurement," she added.

"We are fundraising because when the case goes to open court - perhaps sometime in August, we need to pay for legal costs," she stressed.

Bourden's team works at Sherpa, a non-profit organisation that advocates corporate social responsibility, and it has been providing pro bono services for Suaram thus far.

Suaram hopes to raise about RM100,000 to cover the legal costs. Other than selling seats for the three dinner events, the NGO is also seeking donations.

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