French court to decide on appeals in Scorpene submarine case

(Malaysia Now) – The Paris Court of Appeal will deliver its decision on April 11 on the appeals brought by two French defence groups in the investigation into alleged bribes in connection with the sale of submarines to Malaysia in 2002, AFP has learnt from a judicial source.

In a hearing on Feb 14, the investigating chamber addressed several motions for nullity brought by Thales, its subsidiaries and DCNI, contesting in particular the validity of searches carried out as part of this investigation.

After a first hearing on April 19, 2022, the Court of Appeal had postponed its decision for several months, requesting additional information aimed at clarifying certain contentious points of the investigation.

According to elements known to AFP, the public prosecutor’s office requested confirmation of the procedure in writing after reading the new documents submitted to the investigation.

At the heart of the matter are consultancy contracts concluded on the sidelines of the sale to Malaysia in 2002 of two Scorpene submarines and an Agosta submarine by DCNI, allied with Thales, for nearly €1 billion.

French judges suspect some of these contracts of being used as a front to pay bribes to former prime minister Najib Razak.

Najib was defence minister when the deal was signed to buy two Scorpene-class submarines and one Agosta submarine from French naval dockyards unit DCN, now part of Thales, in a deal worth US$1.2 billion.

Najib’s associate Abdul Razak Baginda acted as an adviser on the deal. He is accused of disguising the kickback of more than €114 million as “consulting work” by a firm in which he was the largest shareholder.

The money was then allegedly given to Najib, who has faced a series of graft cases since his Barisan Nasional coalition was voted out in 2018.

Razak was charged in France in 2017, while Najib has been questioned by anti-graft investigators.