Razak Baginda Clarifies French ‘Charge’ over Submarine Deal

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Razak Baginda clarifies that ‘charged’ in France means a formal investigation has taken place.

On media reports that he has been charged in France over Malaysia’s purchase of submarines in 2002, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda said that the French legal system differs from that of Malaysia.

“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,” Razak said in a statement released by his office on Tuesday evening.

He said he has not been charged in any court of law in France.

“It must be emphasised that it’s an ongoing inquiry and no formal charges in a court of law have been brought against any individual(s).

“The term ‘charged’ in the context of the inquiry means placing the said individuals under ‘formal investigation’

“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.

In February 2016, Razak told the Financial Times that while he was paid €30mil (RM169.9mil) to consult on the Scorpene submarine deal, none of the money was used to bribe officials and that it was a “legitimate agreement”.

Investigators are also probing allegations that €114mil (RM576.9mil) 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.

However, since the company was based in Malaysia, it is likely to fall outside of French jurisdiction.

Razak’s fate is now in the hands of a French magistrate, who will have the final say if he is to face trial, says a local lawyer, FMT reported.

“The magistrate will then direct the police to investigate the matter and when the magistrate thinks the case is worthy, charges will be made accordingly,” the lawyer said.

“Every country has its own legal system. If the legal system in France thinks that there is a case, then they will make the necessary charges and proceed with the trial.

“These allegations fall exclusively under French jurisdiction. Even though it involves a Malaysian and Malaysian assets, there will be no charges, there will be no trial to be conducted in Malaysia,” the lawyer said.

French authorities opened an investigation into the deal in 2010 in response to a complaint from Malaysian rights group Suaram.

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

He said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should also investigate the issue, repeating Suaram’s stand in a statement that Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali should reopen the case initiated by the MACC in 2012.

The statement, issued on Jul 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 also urged Parliament to set up a royal commission of inquiry into the matter.

Meanwhile, an anti-graft NGO also repeated its call for the MACC to investigate alleged kickbacks in the 2002 submarine deal.

“MACC must open investigations now, no more ding-dong and excuses.

“We also repeat our call for Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali to cooperate with French prosecutors to resolve the case and bring to book the culprits,” Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) executive director Cynthia Gabriel said today.

She was the primary whistleblower as the then Suaram director when the controversy first came to light.

Gabriel also said that Najib must “answer for this” as he was the defence minister at the time and oversaw the deal.

Earlier report: Aug 1, Razak Baginda Charged over French Submarine Deal

Related report: Jul 21, NGOs Call for MACC Case on Scorpene Deal to Be Reopened