Razak Baginda claims French ‘charge’ over Scorpene subs untrue

 |Aug 2, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Abdul Razak Baginda has denied he was charged in a French court in relation to Malaysia’s 2002 purchase of Scorpene submarines. He claims the use of the term in French media is misleading.

Referring to an AFP report yesterday, Razak said the term “charged” used in the ongoing French inquiry into alleged corruption in the purchase of the Scorpene submarines in 2002, does not have the same meaning it does in Malaysia.

“The French legal process is different from the Malaysian legal process.

The term ‘charged’ in the context of the inquiry means placing the said individuals under ‘formal investigation’.

“In the Malaysian legal process a person suspected of a crime is investigated and if there is sufficient evidence, the person is charged in a court of law,” he said in a statement last night.

Razak, who was an adviser to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak at the time of the Scorpene purchase, when Najib was defence minister, said it was just an ongoing inquiry and that no formal charges in a court of law had been brought against any person.

Yesterday’s AFP report quoted a French judicial source saying that Razak was charged in France on July 18 with “active and passive complicity in corruption” and “misappropriation of corporate assets”.

Previously, four French defence industry executives had already been charged since the investigation began – two former chairmen of DCNI, Philippe Japiot and Dominique Castellan, and two former heads of Thint Asia, Bernard Baiocco and Jean-Paul Perrier. All four have denied the charges against them.

Razak, an associate of the prime minister, said previous reports on the other four being charged were also misleading.

“The universal principle in any criminal proceeding is ‘a person is innocent until proven guilty’. Any criminal prosecution has to be based on evidence and not hearsay or narratives.

“The inquiry by the French is welcomed as I have not committed any crime of corruption or breached any laws in the matter,” he said adding that it was “highly regrettable” that the news reports are misleading and the correct facts of the matter are not reported.

Malaysia purchased Scorpene submarines worth nearly €1 billion (RM5 billion) from French naval dockyards unit DCN, which is linked to French defence group Thales.

French authorities opened a probe into the deal in 2010 in response to a complaint from Malaysian rights group Suaram.

According to AFP, the investigation revealed that another company, Terasasi, whose main shareholder was Razak, received €30 million for what was billed as consultancy work, but which investigators believe was really a front for kickbacks.

The French investigators are also looking into allegations that €114 million was paid to a purported Malaysia-based shell company, Perimekar, as part of the deal. That company was controlled at the time by Razak’s wife.

Suaram chief Sevan Doraisamy told Free Malaysia Today he hoped Razak would give his full cooperation on the matter.

Sevan urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate the issue as well, repeating Suaram’s stand in a statement last month that Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali should reopen the case initiated by MACC in 2012.

The statement, issued on July 20, read: “Abdul Razak Baginda, the chief negotiator of the arms deal, now at the centre of the French probe, must offer his fullest cooperation to the French prosecution team and MACC to clarify his role and clear his name once and for all.

“It is no longer an option to remain silent and hope the case will go away.”

Sevan said mutual legal assistance should be allowed as requested by France to connect the dots and resolve the case once and for all.