While news reports had it that French prosecution papers disclosed that Altantuya Shaariibuu had never entered France, none mentioned that a witness had claimed that a Malta company paid for her travels with political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda.
During an interview between Paris-based submarine maker DCNS former financial director Gérard-Philippe Menayas and French police, it was revealed that Gifen paid Razak’s travel expenses with his interpreter “Madam Altantuya Sharibuu”.
According to Menayas, a Mr Jean-Marie Boivin from Thales International told him that a Mr Souvageot from Armaris asked him to take charge of Razak’s expenses via Gifen as his firm could not do it.
According to news reports, Boivin set up Gifen in Malta – or such companies were established in different countries – to dodge Organization for Economic and Social Development (OECD) rules that made such transactions a crime.
“I asked for confirmation from Christian de Bearegard, the person-in-charge of the management of marketing companies at DCNI but he told me that he didn’t know of such a request,” Menayas told French police.
“Mr Boivin confided in me in 2005-2006 or about 3 years after the event, during our frequent meetings,” he added.
These details were revealed in the French police investigation papers document 136 (pages 8-11) of 153 which have been translated into English and released online by the Asia Sentinel.
How funds were channeled
Gifen was allegedly one of the companies which transferred funds up to 800 million euro (RM3.2 billion) to Perimekar Sdn Bhd (€550 million (RM2.2 billion) and Terasasi (€150 million (RM599 million).
Thales and Amaris were subsidiaries of DCNS which dealt with the Malaysian counterpart on the sales of the submarines.
The two Malaysian companies based in Hong Kong are owned by Razak and his family, who have close links to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Razak was charged with Altantuya’s murder in 2006 but acquitted without his defence being called while two of Najib’s former bodyguards are facing the hangman’s noose for her causing death.
Najib was then deputy prime minister and defence minister overseeing the purchase of the two Scorpene-class submarines in a RM7.3 billion deal with DCNS inked in 2002.
Gabriel said that while FMT took information from document 54, the news portal did not report another important piece of information from the same document, which read:
“Noting in particular that a person by the name of SHAARIYBUU Bayasgalan born on 26 February 1979 in Mongolia was issued a temporary residency card on the French territory valid from 27 August 2004 to 26 November 2004. The address declared was 18 rue Houdon in Paris 18.”
Altantuya very much involved
Gabriel (right) said it has become very likely that Atantuya has travelled under a different name, saying that Suaram finds the report on FMT“misleading and insincere”.
She added that document 136 also quoted Menayas as saying that Boivin mentioned the Malta company as paying for Razak and Altantuya’s travels.
“So it has become quite clear that Altantuya was very much involved in the Scorpene scandal, and has even supporting facts to show that she was indeed in France,” said Gabriel.
“The question that begs to be answered now is what was her real role in the entire negotiations?” she asked.
Gabriel urged the government to stop the “denial game” and provide proper answers to the questions that have been piling up from the latest revelations of the Scorpene inquiry.
Suaram has filed a court case in France against DCNS for allegedly paying illegal commissions to top Malaysian officials involved in the submarine sales.
On Jan 19, political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda (right) had claimed in a witness statement that he had met Altantuya – whom he called Aminah – at the end of 2004 and middle of 2005.
Recorded on Oct 31, 2006, 12 days after her murder by military explosives, the statement said Razak had met the Mongolian “in various places – Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, France and Kuala Lumpur”.
Photos of her trip to France were published in an Asia Sentinel article headlined ‘Who was Altantuya Shaariibuu?’, written by John Berthelsen on Dec 5, 2007.
Razak, who was acquitted of her murder in 2008 without his defence being called, said he had a ‘relationship’ with her and paid her US$10,000 (RM35,000) on several occasions.
But he stopped giving her money on Oct 23, 2006, when he could no longer tolerate her repeated “harassment”.
The details were reported in Bernama on Jan 19, 2007, during Razak’s application for bail after being charged with the murder of Altantuya, at the Shah Alam High Court.
This story does not tally with the French police investigation report which first appeared in online news portal Free Malaysia Todayheadlined ‘French probe: Altantuya never entered France’.
The report also squashed claims that Altantuya worked as a translator for Razak in the Paris deal as she does not speak French.
Model, mistress or translator?
Questions then arise as to Altantuya’s work and her relationship with Razak, well-known to be a close ally of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
While Razak has admitted that Altantuya was his mistress, her father – Setev Shaariibuu – on Jun 15, 2007, at a press conference with several NGOs in Kuala Lumpur revealed that the duo had a business relationship.
“She was a professional translator for the past five years (2001-1006). She worked for (Razak) Baginda.
“She did not have a relationship with him,” he had told reporters then, pointing out misinformation in the press surrounding his daughter’s identity.
He had also revealed a document indicating that there were business relations between his daughter and Razak, who currently lives in London, with his wife and daughter.
Shaariibuu (right) had repeated the claim of his daughter’s work in court on Jun 21, 2007, when he described Altantuya as having a “jet-setting life” as a professional translator and interpreter.
“She travelled most frequently to Malaysia, Singapore and China, but also travelled to many other countries.”
The French are currently investigating the deal, where huge amount of kickbacks were allegedly paid to top Malaysian officials.
Human rights NGO – Suaram – had filed a case against French submarine maker – DCNS – for allegedly paying the kickbacks, which was said to have benefited Najib and Umno.
Najib, was then deputy prime minister and defence minister, in charge of the procurement of the two scorpene class submarines in a massive RM7.3 billion deal inked in 2002.
Najib and Razak have both vehemently denied involvement in the case.
Entered France as ‘Aminah’?
Meanwhile, now a question mark is hanging over whether or not Altantuya had entered France via another name as she is also known as ‘Aminah’ to both her father and Razak.
According to Setev, however, ‘Aminah’ is not a Muslim name but a term Mongolians used to described their eldest daughter.
Altantuya was also known to V BalaSubramaniam – a private investigator hired by Razak – who testified in court on Jun 18, 2007, that a Mongolian national named Aminah had visited the political analyst at his office on Oct 9 the previous year.
Bala had claimed that Razak had hired him for RM4,000 a month to prevent Altantuya from either meeting or threatening him.
He later made a statutory declaration disclosing that police had omitted information about the relationship between Najib and Altantuya during their investigation.
He retracted the statutory declaration the following day and replaced it with one that erased all traces of links between Najib and the Mongolian woman.
Bala then disappeared with his family and later re-emerged, claiming that his life had been threatened, and admitting that his first statutory declaration was true.