French lawyer in Malaysia to aid submarine graft probe
Kuala Lumpur, Feb 12, 2019 (AFP) - A French lawyer probing a controversial
submarine deal linked to Malaysia's ousted leader Najib Razak was Tuesday set
to meet officials to aid investigations into the scandal.
William Bourdon, who represents local human rights group Suaram over the
French submarine deal, was deported from Malaysia on his last visit in 2011
when Najib's scandal-mired regime was still in power.
But after a historic change of government last year, he returned to the
country to help a new investigation into the case.
Malaysia purchased two French-made Scorpene submarines for $1.2 billion in
2002 while Najib was defence minister.
The French submarine maker Naval Group -- then called DCNS -- is alleged to
have paid more than 114 million euros ($128 million) in kickbacks to a shell
company linked to Abdul Razak Baginda, a close Najib associate who brokered
Razak Baginda's Mongolian mistress Altantuya Shaariibuu, who was said to
have demanded a cut for translating during negotiations, was shot dead and her
body blown up with military-grade plastic explosives near Kuala Lumpur in 2006.
The case sank off the radar after a Malaysian court in 2008 cleared Razak
Baginda of abetting the murder, sparking allegations of a huge cover-up to
Bourdon was set to meet with Malaysian Attorney-General Tommy Thomas on
Tuesday to discuss the case, and anti-corruption officials.
"This is a complex case, you can imagine that they will like from us to
update (them about) the proceedings in France," he told a press conference.
"Of course we will answer the questions as far as we can."
A French investigation was launched in 2010 after complaints from Suaram,
and has already led to four French executives involved in the deal and Razak
Baginda being charged. They all deny wrongdoing.
Najib was questioned by anti-graft officials over the case in November
after Malaysia's new government took office and reopened investigations into
the submarine deal.
The former premier, who is also embroiled in a separate scandal over the
alleged looting of state fund 1MDB, denies any wrongdoing.
Najib's long-ruling coalition was voted out of power in May in large part
due to the 1MDB scandal. The ex-leader has been arrested over the controversy
and is due to stand trial.