Is it really that evident that 'Altantuya was very much involved in the Scorpene scandal' as being touted by Suaram?
PETALING JAYA: Suaram director Cynthia Gabriel has labelled FMT’s article on Monday which quoted French police investigation reports as stating that there are no records of “Altantuya Shaariibuu” entering France between 1999 and 2006 as “misleading and insincere”.
She was quoted by Malaysiakini on Thursday as saying that while FMT had relied on a French police document 54 for the information, the FMT report had not mentioned “another important piece of information from the same document”.
Gabriel was referring to this portion of document 54, as quoted by Malaysiakini:
“Noting in particular that a person by the name of SHAARIYBUU Bayasgalan born on 26 February 1979 in Mongolia was issued a temporary residency card on the French territory valid from 27 August 2004 to 26 November 2004. The address declared was 18 rue Houdon in Paris 18.”
She is right. There was more in the said document, including some portions which she had missed as well.
The document, prepared by Sergeant Chief of Police Arnaud Ryckewaert, stated that the police had checked with the French border authorites and found that Altantuya Shaariibuu, Abdul Razak Baginda and Najib Razak had not passed through the French territory since 1999.
However, he said that there appeared to be “some homonyms” in the border records, and in his words, “most notably that a person calling themselves [sic] Shaariybuu Bayasgalan”.
There is nothing in the document which draws a link between Altantuya and Shaariybuu Bayasgalan.
The document states that Shaariybuu Bayasgalan was born on Feb 26, 1979, in Mongolia, and has benefited a temporary residence on French territory from Aug 27, 2004 to Nov 26, 2004. The document also provided a Paris address for Shaariybuu Bayasgalan.
The question now is whether this Shaariybuu Bayasgalan is actually Altantuya Shaariibuu. According to the French police documents, Shaariybuu Bayasgalan was born on Feb 26, 1979. Altantuya meanwhile was reportedly born on May 6, 1978.
There is no evidence to suggest that Altantuya was also known as Shaariybuu Bayasgalan.
However, it is possible that Altantuya could have entered France under another name. It is a known fact that she was also known as “Amina Abdullah”. It is also possible that she could have entered France through a neighbouring European Union country. In fact, photos published by Asia Sentinel do indicate that Altantuya had been to France. FMT has not disputed this fact.
The French police investigation also revealed that there are no immigration records to show that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his close aide Abdul Razak Baginda had entered France from 1999 to 2006.
However, another investigation document revealed that Najib, then a defence minister, and Abdul Razak were part of an official entouarge to Paris from June 16 to June 18, 2000.
Najib made further visits to France in July 2001, July 2003, June 2005 and October 2007 but it is possible that Najib and his entourage could have entered France through diplomatic channel.
The French police confidential documents also revealed that submarine-maker DCNS officials had informed French police that they never met a person named Altantuya and do not know who she was in the course of their negotiations for the Scorpene deal.
It must also be noted that prior to 2006, entry records into France were recorded manually, based on boarding passes shown at the immigration counters. There is a likelihood of the French police missing out some written records.
However, as it stands, the French police investigation revealed that “Altantuya Shaariibuu” did not enter France from 1999 to 2006, and this was reported by FMT on Monday.
Gabriel also said that Altantuya was involved in the submarine deal based on document 136 which quoted former DCN International official as saying that a Malta company linked to DCNS has paid for Razak and Altantuya’s travels.
“So it has become quite clear that Altantuya was very much involved in the Scorpene scandal, and has even supporting facts to show that she was indeed in France,” Gabriel said in the Malaysiakini report.
“The question that begs to be answered now is what was her real role in the entire negotiations?” she asked.
Very much involved? Really?
It is true that according to document 136, DCNI (which is DCNS’s sales arms) finance and administration director Gérard-Philippe Menayas is quoted as telling the French police that
DCNI, through its related companies, had paid for the traveling expenses of “Abdul Razak and his interpreter Altantuya”. But he did not state if the expenses were for a trip to France.
He also said that he was informed of this fact in 2005/2006, “three years after the fact”, which means the payment was made sometime in 2002/2003.
Abdul Razak had admitted of having a relationship with Altantuya is an affidavit filed during the murder trial. He had said that he met Altantuya in November 2004 and broke off with her after a year, which resulted in her allegedly blackmailing him and demanding money from him.
Altantuya meanwhile said in her police report, made days before she was murdered, that she had come to Kuala Lumpur “to see my boyfriend” and that she had been his lover for two and a half years.
She admitted “blackmailing him”, understanding that “he doesn’t loves me anymore” and that she wanted “money from him to go back”. She said that Abdul Razak had “lied to me to help and ruin my life”.
Her father Setev Shaariibuu had been reported as saying that he was informed by Altantuya that Abdul Razak had helped her obtain a French visa which was issued in Kuala Lumpur between 2004 and 2005, apparently issued under the name Amina Abdullah.
Apparently there are also no immigration records of Altantuya entering Malaysia in 2006.
The French inquiry
Suaram has successfully sought for a judicial inquiry at the Tribunal De Grande Instance in Paris to probe alleged corruption crimes and illegal bribes involving top officials from both Malaysia and France in the submarine deal.
Suaram claims that the submarine sellers had paid bribery amounting to 114 million euros to Abdul Razak’s firm Perimekar Sdn Bhd, with help from Altantuya.
So far, the French police investigation papers submitted to the inquiry have in fact raised several questions on the submarine negotiations, especially on the aspect of commissions paid through Umno nominees. The investigation has also unveiled some potential discrepancies in the movement of the commissions, supposedly involving Umno and some of its nominees.
Going by the investigation documents submitted to the French judicial inquiry and documents from the French police investigation, there is nothing to show that Altantuya had acted as an official translator, or in any other role in the Scorpene deal, or that she was seen in the Malaysian negotiation team, either here or Paris. She doesn’t even speak French.
It also interesting to note that there is not a single mention of any photographs of Altantuya in France in any of the 135 French investigation documents. Asia Sentinal had said that they were handed the photographs in 2007.
Did the French police ignore them or were the photographs never given to the police? Why did Suaram, if they had known about the photographs, not hand them to the French police since they form a crucial part of the evidence to prove that she went to Paris?
This leaves us with more questions than answers. Was Altantuya involved in the submarine deal in any capacity at all? Was she just Abdul Razak’s spurned lover? Did she have a passport under another name? Was she really a Russian spy as was being mentioned in the diplomatic chats? Is her death being used by people with their own agenda? Who is Altantuya? Was she Altantuya in fact?