French connection: The net is closing in

Mariam Mokhtar from Paris, Malaysian Mirror 

ARIS – Private eye P Balasubramaniam is the first witness from Malaysia to testify in investigations into alleged corruption in the sale of Scorpene submarines by French state-owned naval shipyard DCN (Direction des Constructions Navales) to Malaysia.

Unlike the Malaysian government, the French view these matters seriously.

The French police are taking the lead and Bala was interviewed at 14:00 Central European Summer Time (CEST) on Monday 12 July. The following day, 13 July, he met with the French legal expert Joseph Breham at 10:00 CEST for further discussions.

He had his first meeting  with three people – a French policeman who asked the questions, his assistant and an interpreter. At the end of the three-hour session, he had four papers to sign.

He mentioned that the questions that were put to him on the second day of interviews were similar to the ones discussed with the police the previous day. He also confirmed that two extra people would be involved in the investigations – which his lawyer Americk Sidhu had mentioned in an earlier press release.

When asked how he felt the two interviews had gone, he said he felt “very positive” about them, and that he had a “good feeling” that justice would finally be done. He also hinted that there might be further investigations and possibly another trip to Paris to give his testimony.

When questioned about a possible time frame for these further enquiries, he guessed that it might take around six months.

He stressed that once the details had been finalised, his lawyers would issue an official press release concerning the two interviews that had been conducted in Paris.

Investigation into Altantuya’s death

Few will disagree with the saying that if justice is to be done, then it must be seen to be done. Any legal processes involved should be open to scrutiny and be impartial. However, when it came to the investigation into Altantuya’s death, justice was allowed to sink without trace.

 When Bala found that his testimony as a witness in Altantuya’s murder was suppressed, he concluded that the official inquiries were a whitewash.

The submarines were built by Armaris, a subsidiary of the French defence giant DCN. A third, retired, submarine, built by a joint venture between DCN and Agosta from Spain, was leased.

The cost of the submarines and the “commission” fee were paid to companies (Perimekar and KS Ombak Laut) owned by Najib’s friend, Abdul Razak Baginda. Baginda’s wife, Mazalinda, is the principal shareholder.

Under the terms of the original contract, the vessels were basically hulks. A further RM550 million was spent to fit the submarines with detection devices and armaments.