The first subpoena seeking testimonies for the French probe into alleged kickbacks to a Malaysian political figure over the the 2002 purchase of a pair of Scorpene submarines, has been delivered last night, according to NGO Suaram.
“As we sit at the dinner tables right this moment, a subpoena is on the way to Mr Jasbir Singh Chahl’s house.
“The case is moving forward more concretely,” announced Suaram coordinator Cynthia Gabriel who is spearheading the case for the human rights NGO.
Speaking at a fundraising dinner for their project ‘Ops Scorpene’, Gabriel said Jasbir was Abdul Razak Baginda’s right-hand man in Perimekar, the company that acted as the conduit for the procurement of the submarines, through which over RM500 million in alleged “commissions” have been channelled.
Suaram was the interested party that lodged a complaint with the French judiciary to start the probe into the alleged illegal kickbacks on the sale of the submarines from French shipbuilder DCNS.
The French courts had ruled that the NGO has locus standi to initiate the proceedings as a body concerned about transparency and corruption in Malaysia.
Abdul Razak himself was the close confidante of then defence minister and present prime minister Najib Razak .
The former stands accused of accepting millions in “consultancy fees” on Najib’s behalf allegedly to ‘grease’ the deal.
Gabriel said that Jasbir was privy to a lot of information about the deal as he was point-man in the negotiations between DCNS and Perimekar.
“He has confirmed his cooperation with us,” Gabriel said further, expressing anticipation that his insider’s testimony would shed more light into the Scorpene scandal.
Gabriel explained that Jasbir was the first in Suaram’s list of witnesses accepted by the French inquiry, with other subpoenas to follow suit.
Others named as witnesses include Abdul Razak (left) himself, his wife Mazlinda Makhzan who is a director at Perimekar, Najib, current defence minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, private investigator P Balasubramaniam and former Perimekar director Lodin Wok Kamarudin.
She however explained to the audience that the proceedings is still at the preliminary stage, akin to the initial stage of opening an investigation paper, albeit performed by the French judiciary and not by law enforcement authorities.
The French judiciary had agreed to follow through with the inquiry after France’s state prosecutor dropped investigations into the complaint, some claim due to political and diplomatic pressure.
The dinner that was attended by over 1,000 donors, supporters and volunteers involved in efforts to uncover the alleged corruption behind the deal, dubbed ‘Ops Scorpene’, saw over RM200,000 raised for their French probe war chest.
The funds were raised through ticket sales and auctions.
Ten exclusive green T-shirts with artwork depicting the Scorpene saga were sold off ranging from RM300 to RM2,000 each, while a painting by local political cartoonist Zunar (right) was auctioned off for RM5,000.
Gabriel explained that the funds will mostly go to the retainer for their French lawyers William Bourdon and Joseph Breham, which can run up to RM12,000 a month, as well as legal, translation, travel and other expenses.
She said that in line with Suaram’s policy of transparency, the full accounting of all funds collected and spent are listed in a financial report on their website.
Bourdon made a cameo appearance during the dinner via a long distance phone call, expressing his regret that he cannot be with the audience last night.
He said he is confident that the inquiry will soon shed more light into the scandal and eventually bring those in the wrong to justice.
The case has already uncovered a continent-crossing trail that spans from France to Pakistan to Maltato Malaysian shores.
The Malaysian government deported Bourdon last year for allegedly abusing the terms of his social visit pass after speaking at a Suaram dinner, and has been allegedly denied a work permit to enter Malaysia in relation to the Scorpene case.
‘Suaram not opposition tool’
Earlier, Suaram executive director E Nalini hit out at those who disparaged the NGO and its efforts, vehemently denying the “false allegations” that the NGO is an opposition tool and had been paid to pursue the scandal.
“I take affront at these outright (allegations), which do not mention the support (we have received) from ordinary Malaysians.”
She argued that they had invited opposition personalities to their function as they have shown consistent support for Suaram’s fight against corruption, something she claimed BN politicians had shown only lukewarm interest in.
“We are open to any support in the fight against corruption,” she said, reminding that the fight is not Suaram’s but one that is on the behalf of all ordinary Malaysians interested in ending corruption.
Also present at the dinner were several opposition politicians, three of whom also addressed the audience: PKR Subang MP R Sivarasa, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and DAP national publicity director Tony Pua.
All three spoke about the deplorable state of corruption in the country, whose perpetrators walk away scot-free, urging the audience to vote Pakatan into Putrajaya in the upcoming 13th general election to put an end to this