Malaysia to set up task force to probe Scorpene scandal, other issues of concern

Malaysia to set up task force to probe Scorpene scandal, other issues of concern

File photo of a Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarine in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur
File photo of a Scorpene-class diesel-electric submarine in Port Klang outside Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will form a special investigative task force to look into major issues raised by the people - including a French Scorpene submarine deal done during former prime minister Najib Razak's time as defence minister.

"We will create an investigative task force and the form of that task force will be discussed in Cabinet," newly installed defence minister Mohamad Sabu said on Monday (Jun 4), when asked if his ministry will look into the Scorpene case. 

"It's too early for me to comment because this task force will be discussed with Cabinet."

In 2002, Najib oversaw the purchase of two Scorpene-class submarines and one Agosta-class submarine from French naval dockyards unit DCN, worth nearly €1 billion (US$1.17 billion).

An investigation was launched over the deal in France with several people charged over alleged kickbacks. In Malaysia, there have been calls to investigate claims of excessive commissions paid to middlemen. 

There was also a criminal investigation over the 2006 murder of Mongolian national Altantuya Shaariibuu, believed to have been a translator on the deal. Her body was found blown up by military grade explosives in a jungle clearing. 

Two former policemen were convicted of the crime but claim they were pawns.

Malaysia's new Pakatan Harapan-led government won the May 9 general election, defeating the then ruling Barisan Nasional coalition led by Najib. 

Since then, Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor have been hauled up by the country's anti-corruption authorities to assist in their probe into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal. 

Apartments linked to Najib were also raided by police. Cash over RM537,000 (US$135,000) in multiple currencies, 52 branded bags and 10 luxury watches were seized during one of those raids between May 16 and 17. 

Source: CNA/ng

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