THE name of murdered Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu appeared in France’s investigation of the multi-million dollar Scorpene submarine deal, said French lawyers today ahead of a meeting with Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.
The lawyers told reporters in Putrajaya that the ongoing trial for the civil suit filed by Altantuya’s family could shed new light on the Scorpene deal inked during Najib Razak’s time as defence minister.
“Although the French authorities are not investigating the murders, her name does appear,” said lawyer Apolline Cagnat, whose law firm was hired 10 years ago by local rights group Suaram to file a legal challenge on the Scorpene deal.
“The timeline matches, we know she came to France around the time the deal was being made, we understand she had a part in the Scorpene deal (translating)… we don’t know her role and it needs to be clarified,” she said at a press conference today before the meeting with Thomas and several officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Cagnat and her partner attorney, William Bourdon, arrived in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.
Najib and his former adviser Abdul Razak Baginda have been accused of receiving kickbacks in the purchase of three submarines from a French ship builder in 2002.
Altantuya’s father had claimed that Razak, who received €30 million (RM137 million) in relation to the Scorpene deal, was her lover at the time the deals were signed.
In July 2017, the French courts indicted Baginda, who dealt with the purchase of the submarines from Thales and DCNS in 2002.
Suaram’s civil suit had led to the indictment of several officers from the shipbuilder company for allegedly paying kickbacks.
Establish money trail to reveal Najib’s role in Scorpene deal, say French lawyers
NAJIB Razak and his former associate Abdul Razak Baginda’s involvement in the Scorpene corruption scandal will be clearly defined once the money trail in the deal is established, said French lawyers involved in the probe.
The lawyers, engaged by civil rights watchdog Suaram to file a legal challenge in France on possible corruption in the Scorpene deal, told reporters Najib could be the beneficiary of commissions in the deal.
Lawyer William Bourdon said this can only be established if French and Malaysian authorities work together to connect the pieces of the puzzle.
He said a black hole in the case involved Terasasi (Hong Kong) Limited, a shell company that allegedly received at least €36 million (RM144 million) as an offshoot of French defence company DCN.
Terasasi is at the centre of allegations that at least some of the €36 million was funnelled through its accounts to Najib as commission on the sale of the two submarines purchased from French defence company Thales International, also known as Thint Asia.
Razak is listed as the director of Terasasi.
Investigations revealed that France state-owned shipbuilding company DCNS and Thales International Asia, from which the Malaysian government purchased two Scorpene submarines for RM5 billion in 2002, paid RM570 million in commissions and kickbacks to a company called Perimekar Sdn Bhd controlled by Razak and Najib who was the defence minister then.
Bourdon’s legal partner, Apolline Cagnat, said the case could have new information if the authorities in Hong Kong open doors and allow them to take a look at the accounts and money trail of Terasasi.
“One of the key issues of this case is Terasasi. We want access to their accounts because it is quite likely that the shell company will be able to give us a complete mapping of the beneficiaries of the money,” Cagnat said.
Bourdon urged Malaysian authorities to liaise with Hong Kong to allow for the scrutiny of these accounts.
“Hong Kong has signed the Berlin agreement, which is a commitment of automatic exchange of information, but it is not honouring this agreement at the moment,” he said.
He said while Hong Kong did not reject their request, the authorities there are not willing to cooperate.
Bourdon and Cagnat are in Malaysia to meet Malaysian officials and exchange questions on the Scorpene case.
They are meeting with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Attorney General Tommy Thomas and Deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong today.
Bourdon was previously blacklisted by the Najib administration from entering the country for his work in the case.