Sunday 18 March 2012

French prosecutors ready to probe into Scorpene deal

The French judiciary has officially opened investigations into the sale of two Scorpene submarines by DCNS to Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: French prosecutors have prima facie evidence to investigate alleged improprieties against French naval shipbuilder DCNS over its sale of two Scorpene submarines to the Malaysia in 2002.

Announcing this today, Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel said: “The inquiry in France has officially opened on Friday.”

Speaking to reporters here, she said two French judges – Roger Le Loire and Serge Tournaire  – would be hearing the case at the Paris Tribunal de Grande Instance.

In France, Suaram is represented by lawyers William Bourdon and Joseph Breham.
“The two judges are designated to investigate the (alleged) misuse and mismanagement of funds amounting to more than 114.9 million euros.

“They were appointed by a dean of judges,” she said.

The tribunal in the French judiciary is a ‘first degree court’ that deals with civil litigation matters and is placed below the French appeals court.

Gabriel further revealed that the tribunal would also be looking into two additional commissions paid out by DCNS in the deal which involved Malaysian company Perimekar Bhd which had acted as a go-between for the procurement.

“The travel expenses of Abdul Razak Baginda (a close associate of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak), and other unnamed persons to Macao will be exposed,” she said.

“Suaram will have access to the details which we will expose in the coming weeks,” she added.
Suaram as the plaintiff will be required to be present in the case as the first witness.


Journey towards seeking the truth

She also cautioned the press that the case would be a long drawn affair by quoting Suaram’s French lawyers: “While the entire case will be a long drawn affair, the journey towards unravelling the truth has most certainly began.”

Suaram had first filed the complaint in the French judiciary in February 2010, enquiring about the formation of Perimekar after DCNS signed the deal with the Malaysian Defence Ministry, then headed by Najib.

When asked why Suaram had not approached the Malaysian legal system, Suaram’s lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri said that they “met with unanswered questions and lies” when they sought justice here.

She also hoped that the Malaysian authorities will cooperate in the investigations and not be a hindrance in the case.

She pointed out that Bourdon was hauled by the immigration department and deported from Malaysia last year when he flew in to have a  briefing session with Suaram and other interested parties on the development of the case.

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