Charges against Razak Baginda good news if true, says Suaram


PETALING JAYA: Malaysian rights group Suaram says it’s good news if reports are true that France has charged Abdul Razak Baginda over alleged kickbacks in the 2002 sale of Scorpene submarines to Malaysia.

Speaking to FMT, Suaram chief Sevan Doraisamy said he hoped Razak would give his full cooperation on the matter.

Razak had served as adviser to Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was defence minister at the time of the Scorpene deal. Najib had served as defence minister from 2002 to 2008.

Najib oversaw the deal worth nearly €1 billion (RM5 billion) to buy two Scorpene-class submarines and one Agosta-class submarine from French naval dockyards unit DCN, which is linked to French defence group Thales.

An investigation into the deal was launched in 2010 in response to a complaint from Suaram.

Sevan said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should investigate the issue as well, repeating Suaram’s stand in a statement last month that Attorney-General 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 added that mutual legal assistance should be allowed as requested by France to connect the dots and resolve the case once and for all.

He also urged Parliament to set up a royal commission of inquiry into the issue.

According to newswire AFP, Razak was charged in France on July 18 with “active and passive complicity in corruption” and “misappropriation of corporate assets”.

Four French defence industry executives have been charged since the investigation began.

They are 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 men deny the charges against them.

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.