Razak Baginda’s associate denies link to Scorpene scandal
KUALA LUMPUR, June 19 — Businessman Jasbir Singh Chahl today denied he had played a central role in the sale of two French submarines to Malaysia as alleged by human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).
Jasbir also rubbished claims he was subpoenaed to testify in an ongoing French investigation into defence contractor DCNS.
A French court is investigating DCNS over allegations it had paid bribes to senior Malaysian government officials to expedite the RM6.7 billion sale in 2009 of the two submarines, in which RM574 million was earmarked for co-ordination and support services for Perimekar Sdn Bhd — the firm owned by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s former political adviser, Abdul Razak Baginda.
Abdul Razak, who is believed to be now based in Britain, is being sought as a witness in the French case.
“Following comments made by Suaram co-ordinator Cynthia Gabriel at a fundraising dinner on 15th June ... I wish to make clear that I have not received any subpoena from any jurisdiction in relation to any legal proceedings whatsoever,” Jasbir said in a statement emailed to The Malaysian Insider today.
“These are false and distressing allegations made by someone whom I do not know and indeed have never met.
“They are a total fabrication, an utter distortion of the truth and, I believe, part of a deliberate attempt to undermine my reputation and my credibility. I call for them to be immediately withdrawn,” he added.
The businessman runs an Indian restaurant, Gills, in the upscale Damansara Heights neighbourhood here where Abdul Razak used to live.
He admitted knowing the former political analyst personally when contacted by The Malaysian Insider, but maintained he had nothing to do with the Scorpene case as alleged.
Gabriel, a Suaram activist, was reported to have described Jasbir as Abdul Razak’s aide and had played a key role in the government defence deal.
“Jasbir Singh is a central figure in the negotiation and [procurement] process,” she was reported by news portal Free Malaysia Today (FMT) as saying during a Suaram fundraising dinner at the Petaling Jaya Civic Centre on June 15.
The non-government organisation (NGO) had successfully filed a formal complaint with a Paris tribunal in April this year against Malaysia’s failure to address the serious allegations of kickbacks involving government officials, suggesting a deliberate suppression of information to keep the issue under wraps.
Gabriel also claimed that Jasbir had confirmed he would co-operate with the French panel and reveal information on what had transpired in the Scorpene deal from 2002.
Suaram had submitted a long list of potential witnesses when it filed its complaint at the Tribunal Grande instance de Paris on April 19.
Among others, Suaram proposed Jasbir Singh Chahl; Abdul Razak; PM Najib; Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi; private investigator P. Balasubramaniam; the father of murdered Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, Dr Setev Shaariibuu; and chief executive of Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT), Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin Lodin, who is also Boustead Holdings Berhad group managing director and deputy chairman.
Abdul Razak had been the late Altantuya’s lover. During her murder trial, he was acquitted of a charge of abetting two Special Action Squad members — Azilah Hadri and Sirul Azhar Umar — to commit the murder in 2006.
Last April, Setev told a press conference in Petaling Jaya that he had offered himself as a witness in the Scorpene submarine probe, claiming that his testimony would be able to “connect the dots” between her death and the case.