Thursday, June 2, 2011

Who is the mystery man who travelled with Altantuya and Baginda to Paris

A guessing game has begun over the identity of the mystery man who had accompanied murdered Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu and her lover Razak Baginda on their trips to Paris to discuss the submarines deal.

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim's PKR party has already called for a press conference at 2 pm on Thursday to demand further clarity and transparency from the government over the RM6.7 billion acquisition, as well as full details of Prime Minister Najib Razak's role in it.

It was SUARAM director Cynthia Gabriel who piqued the public's curiosity when she announced last week that "a third person's name came up" during the French investigations.

She was referring to the lawsuit filed by her group against DCN, the vendor of the 2 Scorpene and one Agosta submarines purchase by Malaysia's defense ministry in 2002.

Najib, who was then the defense minister, approved the acquisition and he is accused of receiving kickbacks from DCN. Under scrutiny now is a 114 million euros side-deal granted to Perimekar, a firm connected to Baginda, who is his close friend.

Who can it be

Meanwhile, all eyes are on who the mystery man is.

Nearly a year ago, after being quizzed by the French financial police, Baginda's private investigator P Balasubramaniam had mentioned two new names - Major Rahim and Abdul Rahim Saad.

The French prosecutors had asked him if he knew about the two men, their background and involvement. These 2 names had not appeared in his controversial statutory declaration made in 2008, which had linked Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor to the Altantuya murder.

“Bala said these were two names the prosecutors had brought up. He has no idea who they are,” Bala’s lawyer Americk Sidhu had told Malaysia Chronicle in July 2010.

So, who are these two men? Were they part of the ministry of defense? Should not the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission have picked up the thread and begin an embarrassingly long-overdue probe at the Malaysian end?

Sad to say, these questions were asked a year ago. And till now, there is still no action from the Malaysian side. By contrast, the authorities in France are already preparing to shift the inquiry against DCN into open court in Paris. It is illegal in France for any company to offer kickbacks or bribes in order to secure a deal.

One way or another, it looks like highly sensitive information will soon be dredged out that may even be powerful enough to bring down the Najib administration.

Third possibility

There is also a third possibility. The person who travelled frequently with Baginda and Altantuya might be Najib himself.

Altanutya's cousin has previously told the Malaysian authorities that she has seen a photo of the Malaysian premier having dinner with Baginda and Altantuya in Paris.

As for Najib, he has denied ever knowing Altanutya and has even sworn on the Quran to prove his sincerity. Yet he has been unable to shake off public suspicion that both he and Rosmah are involved.

The two men sentenced to hang for her death are the first couple's former bodyguards. Neither men had prior knowledge of Altantuya or motive to kill her unless instructed or paid to do so.

Altantuya had come to Kuala Lumpur to get her US$500,000 share of the 'commission' allegedly paid by DCN to Baginda and Najib. Bala, who was hired by Baginda to keep Altantuya from harassing him and his family, had said Rosmah refused to let the men pay Altantuya any commission at all.

Altantuya had been blackmailing Baginda and threatened to blow the whistle on the entire deal. It is believed she was killed for this reason.

Malaysia Chronicle appends below the statement released by Balasubramaniam after his interview with the French prosecutors. This is his account of what transpired during the interview.

Place of interview: Direction Centrale de la Police Judiciare DNIF, Nanterre, Paris. Interviewed by M Ryckewaert assisted by an English interpreter and another officer. Interview conducted in French through the English interpreter.

Observation: The French investigator appeared to be very familiar with the events inMalaysia relating to the Altantuya murder. The interview however centred on the Scorpene submarine deal and the alleged commission paid in connection with that.

The following were the areas covered in the interview.

1) My background [including date and place of birth] and my occupation from the time I was with the Malaysian police to the time when I became a private investigator in 1998.

2) The validity of my PI (private investigator) licence.

3) The whole story as to how I was recruited to do a job for Razak Baginda and my interview before the job done by Dhirren Norendra, a lawyer practising in Kuala Lumpur. I was questioned about the scope of my assignment, the target and objectives of my assignment.

4) The background to the Altantuya murder. I briefed them on the events leading up to and after the murder and also told them to read my first SD (statutory declaration) and the Singapore interview. Also the identity of the two police officers convicted of the murder, who they worked for as well as the identity of the various other people identified as being about when Altantunya disappeared and their link to Razak Baginda and/or the PM (prime minister).

5) Razak Baginda's relationship with our present PM, the information and events narrated to me by Razak Baginda including the SMS sent by the PM to Razak Baginda at the point of his arrest for the murder of Altantuya.

6) The Malaysian company, Perimekar, its ownership, and link to Razak Baginda and his wife. Also nature of business undertaken by Perimekar. I told them of the presence of army equipment in Razak Baginda's office. Information concerning Razak Baginda and his present whereabouts.

7) Financial payments by Razak Baginda to Altantuya, including the three US$5,000 payments by Baginda to Altantuya, which included a penalty of US$1,000 because of late banking in. Also the purchase by Razak Baginda of an apartment in Mongolia for Altantuya. Also the background to the US$500,000 payment demanded by Altantuya, how it arose, its link to the Scorpene submarine deal, Altanunya's involvement in the negotiations, and admission and confirmation by Razak Baginda that he should have paid Altantuya the money.

8) How Rosmah Mansor teamed up with Deepak to exile me from Malaysia, the threats to my family after I signed the first SD as well as the involvement of the PM's brother in the events that led to the second SD and my being smuggled out of Malaysia and asked to stay away till Najib Razak became PM.

9) I was asked to retrace the events in Rawang coffee house where Deepak, Dinesh and ASP Suresh were present.

10) The length and time I have been in exile.

11) Details concerning Altantuya's cousin, Ammy, who had knowledge of the Paris dinner where the PM and Razak Baginda were present with Altantuya.

12) The identity of the French individuals involved in the Scorpene deal.

13) My knowledge of any payments by the French to Perimekar and information given to me by Altantuya that her US$500,000 was because of the successful deal concerning the Scorpene submarine transaction.

14) The identity, background and involvement of two Malaysians identified as Major Rahim and Abdul Rahim Saad.

15) Altantuya's family background.

16) My links with Suaram, if any.

17) The need for justice to be served for the Altantuya murder and the truth to be told concerning the Scorpene deal.

I signed the statement that the French officer recorded.

Written by Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

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