Thursday, July 15, 2010

French show interest in Razak Baginda during Bala interview

French show interest in Razak Baginda during Bala interview
By Shannon Teoh

July 15, 2010

LONDON, July 15 — Despite being acquitted of the gruesome murder of Altantuya Shariibuu, Abdul Razak Baginda may yet be haunted by the saga centred around the RM7 billion purchase of Scorpene submarines from French company DCN. 

Even though his former private investigator, P. Balasubramaniam, claimed Abdul Razak was innocent of the murder, French authorities are keen to examine the political analyst’s role.

Balasubramaniam (picture), who was hired by Abdul Razak in October 2006 when Shariibuu began harassing him for money, spent a substantial portion of a three-hour-long interview with French police detailing his former client’s involvement in the affair.

The interview, held on Monday in Paris, is part of investigations into alleged irregularities in the payment of RM570 million to Perimekar, a company owned by Abdul Razak, for what the Malaysian government calls “co-ordination and support services” in clinching the submarine deal.

In the course of the interview, two new names also surfaced — Malaysians identified as Major Rahim and Abdul Rahim bin Saad.

A statement released by Balasubramaniam after the interview said that the investigators wanted to know the identity of the two Malaysians, their background and involvement in the matter.

But the private eye did not detail what, if any, information on the two Rahims he divulged, or if he knew them at all.

Balasubramaniam had, however, talked about Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar, the two police officers convicted of Shariibuu’s murder who were also part of then-Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s security detail and other people who were around when the Mongolian disappeared on the night of her death.

The former Special Branch officer spoke about “their link to Baginda and Razak Baginda’s relationship with our present PM” as well as other information relayed to him by Abdul Razak, an Oxford graduate said to be a confidante of Najib’s.

The interview also touched on Abdul Razak’s current whereabouts and Balasubramaniam detailed what he knew about payments that his client had made to Shariibuu, including the US$500,000 (RM1.6 million) demanded by her for her part in the successful submarine deal.

Balasubramaniam made his way to Paris after arriving in London for an interview with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) on the same matter but was then informed that the anti-graft body would merely be sending questions for him to answer.

His lawyers expressed disappointment at the last minute pullout, saying that a “golden opportunity was lost” in which they would have detailed a “conspiracy web that goes to the very highest level”.

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