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Friday, January 29, 2016

French court indicts man linked to Scorpene kickbacks, says report

The former boss of a French company accused of paying kickbacks to a former aide of Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been indicted for "active bribery of foreign public officials", according to an AFP report quoted by Malaysiakini.

The report said Bernard Baiocco, 72, former president of Thales International Asia (Thint Asia), was indicted on December 15 last year, for paying commissions to Abdul Razak Baginda, the political analyst who was acquitted of the 2006 murder of Mongolian citizen Altantuya Shaariibuu.

On another charge of "complicity in misuse of corporate assets", Baiocco was also indicted together with a director of shipbuilder DCN International, which sold two Scorpene submarines to Malaysia in 2002.

The news comes four years after local rights group Suaram filed a complaint with a Paris civil court in 2012 over the multi-million ringgit Scorpene scandal. Suaram had filed a suit against DCNS for allegedly paying 114.9 million euro in illegal commissions to Perimekar Sdn Bhd, a company partly owned by Razak, a close confidante of Najib, then the defence minister. Following this, French authorities raided the offices of Thales and DCN.

Cynthia Gabriel, who spearheaded efforts to bring the scandal to French courts, welcomed the news, saying "this is the moment we have been waiting for".

"We feel very encouraged and happy to hear the case has moved forward and that French investigations have arrived on a very important finding and a key French official has been formally indicted.

"He would have to defend himself in court and all the purchases linked to the Scorpene submarines will now be in public domain," Cynthia, who heads Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), told Malaysiakini.

"With Razak Baginda named, there is a direct link to Malaysia and the question now is whether Razak will be called to testify. Our lawyers in Paris said this case will now move into a full-blown trial, and there may be more individuals indicted."

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