KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 5): Abdul Razak Baginda, the political analyst acquitted of abetting in the 2006 murder of Mongolian citizen Altantuya Shaariibuu, said he received €30 million (RM137 million) as consultation fee in Malaysia's purchase of two Scorpene submarines from France, the Financial Times (FT) reports.
"It was a legitimate agreement. I did my job and I got paid for it. And I never paid any official," the former aide of Datuk Seri Najib Razak was quoted by FT as saying, adding that the deal's execution spanned eight years.
Najib was defence minister at the time of the US$1.2 billion arms deal, which has been riddled with allegations of corruption and kickbacks.
Razak's confirmation comes as French prosecutors launched a formal probe into Najib, a week after it opened a case against Bernard Baiocco, the former president of Thales International Asia, who together with another French defence firm DCNS, had sold the submarines to Malaysia.
The French investigation centres around allegations that Baiocco paid kickbacks to Najib through Razak.
Baiocco's lawyer Jean-Yves Le Borgne confirmed to FT that Razak got payment for lobbying work in the US$1.2 billion arms deals, but denied it was corruption, adding that prosecutors had no proof to show Najib received the payment.
The French probe comes hot on the heels of the Swiss attorney-general's request for assistance from Malaysia, after its probe into transactions linked to troubled 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) revealed that some RM4 billion involving Malaysian government companies was misappropriated.
The latest French investigations are reignited four years after rights group Suaram filed a complaint with a Paris civil court over the multi-million ringgit Scorpene scandal.
Suaram had filed a suit against DCNS for allegedly paying €114.9 million in illegal commissions to Perimekar Sdn Bhd, a company partly owned by Razak.
Razak has previously denied accusations linking the arms deal to the brutal murder of Altantuya, with whom he admitted to having an affair.