Razak Baginda denies French ‘charge’ over Scorpene subs

PETALING JAYA: Abdul Razak Baginda  has denied that he has been charged in a French court clarifying that the use of the term in French media had been misleading.

Referring to a report released by Agence-France Presse (AFP), a global newswire agency, Razak said the term “charged” used over the ongoing French inquiry into alleged corruption in the purchase of the Scorpene submarines in 2002, was not the same as it is 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 released last night.

Razak, who had been an adviser to Prime Minister Najib Razak at the time of the Scorpene purchase, when Najib was defence minister, added that its an ongoing inquiry and no formal charges in a court of law have been brought against any individual(s).

Yesterday, AFP quoted a French judicial source as 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.

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.

Razak said that the previous reports on the other four men 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 an investigation 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.