KUALA LUMPUR, July 3 — The Company Commission of Malaysia (CCM) today called off a search of the office of Suaram, the human rights group that has been exposing alleged wrongdoings in the controversial multi-billion Scorpene submarine deal.
Suaram said CCM’s team of four officers did not have a valid search warrant.
“The warrant must be signed by the registrar. It was not and the person who came along was only a deputy” Cynthia Gabriel, a Suaram director, was quoted as saying by news portal Malaysiakini.
“They have decided to come back tomorrow,” she said, adding that CCM had wanted to quiz its staff and view Suaram’s documents and financial records.
“It is to distract members of the public and divert attention from the ongoing probe into corruption involved in the Scorpene deal,” Gabriel reportedly said, adding that this move amounted to “unnecessary harassment”.
Suaram had filed a complaint at a Paris tribunal in April against Malaysia’s failure to address the serious allegations of kickbacks in the Scorpene deal involving the government, suggesting a deliberate suppression of information to keep the issue under wraps.
The human rights group had submitted a long list of potential witnesses including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Najib’s former political adviser Abdul Razak Baginda.
The French court is investigating submarine-maker 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 Abdul Razak.
Since then, allegations have surfaced that Abdul Razak had sold secret defence documents to the French for some RM142 million in 2006.
Suaram’s lawyer Joseph Breham last month revealed that a highly-confidential government document on the Royal Malaysian Navy’s evaluation of the Scorpene submarines, which it was then planning to buy, was sold by Terasasi (Hong Kong) Ltd to French defence giant DCNS for €36 million (RM142 million).
Abdul Razak, a former think-tank head who was at the centre of a 2006 investigation into the murder of Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, is listed as a director of Terasasi together with his father Abdul Malim Baginda.
The data was purportedly for “commercial engineering” works, Breham had told a news conference in Bangkok last month. The lawyer is acting for Suaram in the ongoing inquiry in Paris.