Jan 17, 2007

Anwar alleges corruption in military aircraft deal

Another story related to our beloved DPM. Previously it was the famous "mongolian model". Now it is the purchase of Sukhoi fighter. So what is the connection this time?

(IHT) KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: Malaysian opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday called for a thorough investigation into a 2003 deal to buy military aircraft from Russia, alleging that a former Cabinet minister received a massive commission at taxpayers' expense.

Anwar told a news conference that US$108 million (€83 million) in commissions were paid to IMT Defence Sdn. Bhd. to act as a facilitator in the US$900 million (€697 million) deal by Malaysia's defense ministry to purchase 18 Sukhoi Su-30MK fighter aircraft.

"Why do you need a facilitator when you have generals going back and forth (between Malaysia and Russia) to negotiate the deal?" said Anwar, a former deputy prime minister. "It is clearly, blatantly corruption. It is certainly not transparent and very unusual."

He said IMT's chairman, Mohammed Adib Adam, was appointed as the middleman in February 2004 although the deal to buy the aircraft from a Russian state company, Rosoboronexport, had already been reached on May 19, 2003.

Anwar said Defense Minister Najib Razak was answerable to the Malaysian public about the alleged commission payments because they were made using taxpayers' money. Although unsubstantiated, the allegations could hurt Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who has made the fight against corruption part of his government's mission.

Anwar claimed he has evidence to prove commissions were paid, but said he could not disclose it now to protect his sources.

Najib's aides could not be reached for comment.

Norashikin Abdul Aziz, an aide to Adib at IMT Defence, said Adib — a former information minister and former chief minister of Malacca state — was overseas and that other company executives were not immediately available for comment.

Anwar said the commissions came to light when a director of IMT Defence, Mohammed Zainuri Mohammed Idrus, filed a suit in March 2005 against Adib and other directors of the company, to prevent the company from sacking him. In his suit, Zainuri claimed that he was being sacked to prevent him from exposing the Sukhoi deal.

Zainuri subsequently lodged a police report on Sept. 30, 2006 alleging that Adib had stolen US$108 million in commissions by setting up a new company with a name similar to IMT Defence, to which the money was channeled.

Najib and Adib have not commented publicly about the lawsuit. Norashikin said the company was aware of Zainuri's allegations but declined to comment further.

"Malaysians have the right to know. What really transpired in the antics alleged by Zainuri in IMT Defence Sdn. Bhd? Why haven't the police or the Anti-Corruption Agency begun investigations?" said Anwar.

Police officials and those at the Anti-Corruption Agency could not be immediately reached for comment.

Anwar's allegations come as he is trying to revive his political career. Once seen as a future prime minister, he was sacked as deputy prime minister by then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 1998 over allegations of homosexuality and corruption.

Anwar and his supporters claimed the charges were trumped up because he had begun to challenge Mahathir's authority.

Anwar was arrested, tried for corruption and sodomy, and sentenced to a total of 15 years in prison. He was released in September 2004 after he was acquitted of the sodomy conviction and finished serving the corruption sentence.

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