Najib associate denies being charged in France with graft

PETALING JAYA • Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, a close associate of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, has denied that he has been charged in France over Malaysia's purchase of Scorpene submarines in 2002.

He said France is carrying out a formal investigation over alleged corruption but "no formal charges in a court of law" have been brought against any individual.

"The French inquiry is on alleged corruption in the purchase of the Scorpene submarines in 2002. It must be emphasised that it's an ongoing inquiry and no formal charges in a court of law have been brought against any individual(s)," said a statement released by Mr Abdul Razak's office on Tuesday.

"French news reports on July 19, 2017, and Aug 1, 2017, have stated that individuals involved in the purchase have been 'charged'. These reports... are misleading. The term 'charged' in the context of the inquiry means placing the said individuals under 'formal investigation'," he added.

He said France's legal process is different from Malaysia's. In Malaysia, a person suspected of a crime is investigated and if there is sufficient evidence, the person is then charged in a court of law. Mr Abdul Razak has welcomed the French inquiry as he says he has not committed any crime of corruption or breached any laws in the matter.

Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday that Mr Abdul Razak had been charged in Paris on July 18 over alleged kickbacks in the purchase of the submarines. The report said four French defence industry executives have already been charged since the probe began.

In February last year, Mr Abdul Razak told the Financial Times that while he was paid €30 million (S$48.2 million) to consult on the submarine deal, none of the money was used to bribe officials and that it was a "legitimate agreement".

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2017, with the headline 'Najib associate denies being charged in France with graft'. Print Edition | Subscribe