Lack of collaboration from Hong Kong stalling Scorpene sub probe: Lawyer

12 Feb 2019 / 18:19 H.

PETALING JAYA: Lack of collaboration by Hong Kong authorities is stalling the investigation into the two Scorpene submarine deal made during the tenure Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak as defence minister.

William Bourdon, the lawyer who engaged by Non-Governmental Organisation Suaram to file a legal challenge in France on possible corruption in the Scorpene deal seven years ago, said the bank accounts for a shell company called Terasasi (Hong Kong) Ltd remain key to shedding more light on the ultimate beneficiaries of the US$130 million commission arising from the submarine deal.

He said Najib and his former associate Abdul Razak Baginda’s involvement in the Scorpene corruption scandal will be clearly defined once the money trail in the deal is established.

“For the moment, this is the black hole in terms of evidence to establish that he (Najib) could be, and I said could be, the beneficiary of the commission from the deal,“ Bourdon told a press conference here yesterday during his first visit to Malaysia after being deported in July 2011.

He said this can only be established if French and Malaysian authorities work together to connect the pieces of the puzzle.

Bourdon said this was because Terasasi was the entity that received the commission, and French investigation found that the shell company is 90%-owned by Razak Baginda, with the remaining 10% owned by his father.

Nonetheless, Bourdon said Hong Kong has not issued a formal refusal to cooperate with the French authority to uncover the money trail so far, hence he is hopeful that things may change eventually with the Malaysian authority beginning its investigation into this case.

Bourdon’s legal partner Apolline Cagnat meanwhile said the case could have new information if the Hong Kong authorities open the door and allow them to take a look at the accounts and money trail of Terasasi.

“One of the key issues of this case is Terasasi, we want to have access to their accounts because it is quite likely that the shell company will be able to give us a complete mapping of the beneficiaries of the money,“ she said.

“Hong Kong has signed the Berlin agreement which is a commitment of automatic exchange of information, Hong Kong is not respectful of this agreement at the moment,“ he said.

Bourdon said he is scheduled to meet Malaysian authorities in his visit this time, to provide assistance on the investigation into the submarine deal.

Among authorities he is a scheduled to meet include the Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, and deputy Defence Minister Liew Chin Tong.

“The doors to this scandal are now open with the new government, we are hoping to get much truth from this cooperation,“ he said.

Bourdon was previously blacklisted by the Najib regime from entering the country for his work on the case.

Meanwhile, in a related matter, Bourdon also revealed that the name of slain Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibu does appear in France’s investigation into the Scorpene submarine deal.

He said her case could shed new light on the Scorpene deal and Najib’s involvement in the whole scandal.

“Although the French authorities are not investigating the murders, her name does appear.

“The timeline matches, we know she came to France around the time the deal was being made, we understand she had a part in the Scorpene deal (translating) ... we don’t know her role and it needs to be clarified,“ Cagnat said.

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