PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) - Political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, an aide of Prime Minister Najib Razak, has denied that he has been charged in France over Malaysia's purchase of Scorpene submarines in 2002, clarifying instead that a formal investigation has taken place.
"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 Dr Abdul Razak's office on Tuesday (Aug 1) evening.
"French news reports on July 19, 2017, and Aug 1, 2017, have stated that individuals involved in the purchase have been 'charged'. These reports have been carried in other mass media and are misleading. The term 'charged' in the context of the inquiry means placing the said individuals under 'formal investigation'," he added.
Dr Abdul Razak said that the French legal process is different from the Malaysian legal process. 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.
"The universal principle in any criminal proceeding is 'a person is innocent until proven guilty'. Any criminal prosecution has to be based on evidence and not hearsay or narratives. Dr Razak Baginda has not been charged in any court of law in France," he said.
Dr 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.
On Tuesday, AFP reported that Dr Abdul Razak had been charged in Paris on July 18 over alleged kickbacks in the purchase of the submarines.
The story which quoted an unnamed judicial source, claimed that Dr Abdul Razak was charged with "active and passive complicity in corruption" and "misappropriation of corporate assets".
The report added that four French defence industry executives have already been charged since the investigation began.
In February last year, Dr Abdul Razak told the Financial Times that while he was paid €30million (S$48.16 million) to consult on the Scorpene submarine deal, none of the money was used to bribe officials and that it was a "legitimate agreement".
Investigators are also looking into allegations that 114 million euros was paid to a purported Malaysia-based company Perimekar that was controlled by Dr Abdul Razak's wife.
However, since the company was Malaysian-based, it is likely to fall outside of French jurisdiction.
An investigation into the deal was launched in 2010 in response to a complaint from Malaysian rights group Suaram.