France: DCNS embroiled in transnational scandal

French naval shipbuilder DCNS is embroiled in a transnational scandal involving the murder of a Mongolian interpreter and the politician who is tipped to be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia.

According to The Australian, the scandal exploded last week when French newspaper Liberation published an exposé in which it alleged that there was a connection between the submarine contracts and the murder of 28-year old Mongolian interpreter, Altantuya Shariibuu.

According to The Australian, Ms Shariibuu was the mistress of a Malaysian political fixer and was trying to extort money from him after their relationship had dissolved. Two men from an elite department of the Malaysian police unit have been accused of shooting Ms Shariibuu in the jungle and then blowing up her body. If convicted of murder, Special Branch Officers Azilah Hadri, 32 and Sirul Azhar Umar, 36, could be sentenced to death for the 2006 incident.

Meanwhile, as their trial unfolds, an opposition MP Gobind Singh Deo, has accused the Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister, Najib Razak, tipped to be the next Prime Minister, of being involved in the murder.

The Australian reported that during an earlier court case, it was established that there was a connection between Ms Shariibuu and a close aide to Mr Razak, who was the Defense Minister at the time when the contracts for the submarines were signed with France's DCNS. Three submarines were ordered in 2002 for €1 billion.

Mr Razak's aide, Abdul Razak Baginda was acquitted of being an accessory to the murder in November last year. He said that Ms Shariibuu had been his mistress and that she attempted to extort money from him when their relationship dissolved.

The Australian reported that the focus is now on why the firm which has merged with DCNS, Armaris, paid 114 million to Perimekar of Malaysia in 2006. Opposition leaders allege that Mr Baginda secretly owns Perimekar and that the fee was a commission. Liberation alleged that Ms Shariibuu had found out about the payment and was trying to get US$500,000 from Mr Baginda.

DCNS, which is already under investigation for corrupt practices, has reportedly refused to comment.

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