TI-M: Consult military staff linked to those in Scorpene deal

TI-M is urging former auditor-general Ambrin Buang to consult military officers who may have knowledge of the 2002 Scorpene submarine deal. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: An anti-graft NGO today urged the special task force investigating procurements by the defence ministry under the previous government to speak to former military personnel who had worked with those involved in the purchase of Scorpene submarines.

Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) president Akhbar Satar said there could be military officers and staff members who had key information on the dealings but who could not speak up.

“The chairman could perhaps seek their assistance to shed light on the actual facts of the Scorpene deal and other deals that we may not know of,” he said, referring to former auditor-general Ambrin Buang who is heading the special investigation committee on procurement, governance and finance.

Akhbar also suggested that Ambrin work closely with international officers and investigators, particularly from France.

He said such individuals could possess crucial facts and details collected since the case was first opened in French courts.

The issue involves alleged kickbacks from the 2002 sale of two Scorpene submarines to Malaysia by French defence and electronics giant Thales and naval shipbuilding operator DCNS.

Abdul Razak Baginda, a former aide of ousted prime minister Najib Razak, was indicted by a French court on July 18 last year in connection with the Scorpene corruption scandal.

Najib was defence minister when the US$1.1 billion deal for the submarines was sealed between France and Malaysia.

A total of five individuals, including Razak, have been indicted by the French court for their involvement in the scandal.

Akhbar also proposed that the defence ministry re-assess corruption risks before embarking on the design of anti-corruption programmes.

He said the assessment could help identify the areas and defence activities involved in corruption risks, as well as the reasons for corrupt behaviour, among others.

He called on Putrajaya to enforce a pre-requisite on all contractors, suppliers and vendors to have an ethics and anti-corruption programme in place before bidding for defence work.

He added that consulting with military experts in all future purchases would prevent the acquisition of unnecessary and low quality items.

He said although the defence ministry produces annual reports on budget performance, and general information on arms acquisitions and defence technology transfer, among others, a more detailed breakdown of expenses was not available.

“The opacity within defence spending can create opportunities for abuse by corrupt agents,” he added.

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