French judges are investigating corruption allegations in connection with the sale of three submarines to Malaysia, sources close to the investigation said Saturday.
The probe relates to commissions paid on the sidelines of a billion-euro deal 10 years ago for the sale by the French naval armaments firm Direction des Constructions Navales (DCN) – in association with the French electronics company Thales and the Spanish naval constructor Navantia (formerly Isar) – of two new and one second-hand submarine to Malaysia.
The judges are looking into at least three separate commission payments, worth a total of more than 144 million euros ($192 million).
Some 114 million euros were paid by Armaris, a DCN and Thales subsidiary, to the Malaysian firm Perimekar, controlled by associates of prime minister Najib Razak.
Razak, at the time, was the defence minister in charge of negotiating the deal.
The Malaysian government has said the payment was for a six-year contract to provide services.
Another payment of 30 million euros made in August 2000 by DCNI, a subsidiary of DCN, and by Thales International Asia (Thint Asia) is also under review.
The third contract under review is one for consulting services signed in October 2000 between Thint Asia and the Malaysian firm Terasasi, one of whose main share-holders is a relative of Razak.
The current probe was launched following a complaint made in March 2010 by the Malaysian Suaram anti-corruption association.