KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 ― French lawyer Olivier Metzner, who had acted for shipbuilding giant DCNS in a French court inquiry initiated by a Malaysian human rights group last year, was found dead yesterday in an apparent suicide, Bloomberg reported.
The business newswire reported Metzner’s body was found floating off in the waters off an island he owned in Brittany’s Bay of Morbihan, and that he had left behind a note, citing an unnamed official from the prosecutor’s office in Vannes, Brittany.
The autopsy results have yet to be announced.
The 63-year-old was described by Bloomberg as a cigar-chomping, media-friendly lawyer who gained fame freeing clients on technicalities.
Metzner’s Malaysian link was through the French court, which set up a tribunal to investigate activist group Suara Rakyat Malaysia’s (Suaram) complaint last April over the multi-billion ringgit sale of two Scorpene submarines by DCNS to Putrajaya.
Suaram had accused Putrajaya of failing to address the serious allegations of multimillion ringgit kickbacks involving high-ranking government officials, suggesting a deliberate suppression of information to keep the issue under wraps.
Malaysia paid RM6.7 billion in 2009 for the two submarines, of which RM574 million was earmarked for “co-ordination and support services” by Perimekar Sdn Bhd, owned by political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda.