Remember back in 2002, an attack outside Sheraton Hotel on French Engineers’ bus (killing 11)? Of course it was blamed on the big bad wolf (Al Qaida). Of course that practice continues to this day.
Well, the truth finally came out earlier this year that that story was anything but true. No it was NOT Al Qaida but some officials pissed because they did not get the full payment of the bribe money they expected, so they decided to teach the French a lesson:
That’s right: the attack was orchestrated by unnamed Pakistani officials angry with France over non-payment of bribes tied to a defence deal.
Of course police had framed some poor guys whom the court finally acquitted.
But guess what? They have been “re-arrested by the authorities under a local law for maintaining public order.” (Now what could be more lame an excuse than that?)
And yesterday another chapter in this sorry saga has been added. A French magazine has come out with a story that has brought the affair to the forefront once again:
Translated from French to English.
The jars of wine Pakistani President
Ali Zardari had received commissions in the case of submarines of the DCN.
This morning, in an annex of the National Assembly, the parliamentary information mission on “the conditions of negotiations and the contract of sale of three Agosta submarines to Pakistan 90″ receives the families of victims of the Karachi attack. Eleven employees of the Directorate of Naval Construction (DCN) died May 8, 2002 in Karachi, while they cooperated in Pakistan under this contract. In the search for causes of this attack, the judge no longer focuses on the scenario of a bombing of Al-Qaeda, it explores two other ways. On the one hand, the hypothesis of an attack in connection with kickbacks unfulfilled. On the other hand, the hypothesis of a punishing attack from negotiations in 2001 by France to sell submarines to India, the traditional enemy – an event held by an intermediary of DCN, Jean – Marie Boivin, during a recent hearing revealed by Mediapart. In both cases, “the importance of the topic justifies parliamentarians seek to know the negotiations surrounding the contract, and details of its implementation,” said MP (PS) Bernard Cazeneuve, rapporteur of the mission information and deputy mayor of Cherbourg – stronghold of the DCN. Reasonable goal … when all the French actors of the contract of 825 million lift the veil on the pattern of corruption that underlies it. For malpractices that have accompanied the military-industrial back to top executive. Locally, Pakistan, Liberation has received documents showing that the current president, Ali Zardari, has been corrupted to the tune of 4.3 million dollars for this contract with France.
Accounts. Explanation: between October 1993 and November 1996, the First Minister, Benazir Bhutto, has many official duties to her husband, Ali Zardari. The latter took the opportunity to require committees in all directions, in agreement with his wife. A feature that earned him the nickname “Mister 10%” and cause his downfall. Arrested December 19, 1996, he was jailed for protecting a drug trafficker cons compensation, according to a letter of attorney from Islamabad we obtained copies. It also mentions several bank accounts opened in Europe. From 1997, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB, so Court of fiscal discipline) undertook to identify assets held abroad by the couple Bhutto-Zardari. Snap cooperation with the Swiss and the British. According to the Office of the Swiss magistrate Vincent Fournier, we asked these requests Pakistani mention the contracts that may have generated kickbacks in favor of Ali Zardari, whose contract submarines of the DCN. Four years later, these efforts are successful.
One report indicates that the NAB April 12, 2001 the British administration in Islamabad transmits almost 22 000 documents on financial transactions Ali Zardari. During the 2001 financial procedures hardened against him. All documents sent by London show he has received large sums from a businessman of Lebanese origin, Abdulrahman al-Asir. This was imposed as an intermediary “by political power” in the French Agreement of September 21, 1994 for the sale of submarines, according to a former head of the DCN heard in Paris. An order from the British judge Lawrence Collins of October 6, 2006 lists the transfers sent by El-Asir to Zardari: 1.3 million dollars in two times, between 15 and August 30, 1994, a month before the signing of contract. Then 1.2 million and $ 1.8 million dollars a year later, between August 22 and September 1, 1995. Judge Collins stated that these payments correspond to operations of corruption. A few months before Zardari’s return to power, all prosecutions and seizures, Switzerland, has been abandoned, April 9, 2008.
Military. But the current President of Pakistan is one of the beneficiaries of these flows validated from Paris. According to the hearings of financial DCN, Commissions take a total of 10% of the market for submarines. Divided into two channels: 4% for policies (including Ali Zardari) and 6% for the military. NAB reports collected in Karachi indicate that the Chief of Staff of the Pakistan Navy in 1994, Mansoor Ul-Haq, has benefited from corruption. Arrested in April 2001, he was forced to return nearly $ 7 million related to the contract submarines.
We already knew one of the beneficiaries of French DCN was Admiral Mansurul Haq, the former drug-smuggling Navy chief (see below) and now another recipient has been named, i.e. Mr. Asif Ali Zardari. Of course the presidency has been quick to deny Zardari’s role (but with pathetic logic, as expected, giving even more weight to the allegations):
Govt rejects Zardari kickback allegations
Thursday, 12 Nov, 2009
ISLAMABAD: The government has contradicted a report published in a local and a French newspaper that accuses President Asif Ali Zardari and military authorities of having received millions of dollars in kickbacks from the 1994 sale of three French submarines to Pakistan Navy.
‘This is actually new regurgitation of an old story which was already contradicted by French President Mr Sarkozy on July 11 this year as ‘untrue’, ‘malicious’ and ‘mischievous’. It is part of a media trial of PPP leadership which we condemn and dismiss with the contempt it deserves,’ Presidential Spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
According to the report in French daily Liberation, President Zardari is suspected of having received millions of dollars in kickbacks from the 1994 submarines deal.
In addition, investigators believe that the non-payment of the full amount of the agreed kickbacks may have led to the death of 11 French nationals in a 2002 terror attack in Karachi.
The newspaper says it has acquired documents that show that Mr Zardari allegedly received $4.3 million in kickbacks from the sale of three Agosta-90 submarines for 825 million euros (currently $1.237 billion).
The documents which were sent to the Pakistani National Accountability Bureau (NAB) by British authorities in April 2001 indicate that Mr Zardari received several large payments into his Swiss bank accounts from a Lebanese businessman, Abdulrahman Al-Assir, in 1994 and 1995.
Commenting on the report, the spokesman said the purchase of equipment by the armed forces of Pakistan was done through a proper competitive process under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence.
‘Mr Zardari was neither the president nor the prime minister nor the defence minister when the submarines referred to in the news item were purchased. [note: Mr Zardari was neither president nor the prime minister nor the defence(sic) minister when he earned his name as Mr 10% and ‘earned’ his $1.8 billion fortune] The then ‘Admiral’ responsible for this purchase was investigated by the Accountability Bureau. But no allegation of misdoing could be established by the investigation authorities against Mr Zardari,’ the spokesman said.
Regarding the allegation about the killing of French nationals in Karachi, the spokesman said that President Zardari was in prison in 2002 when the unfortunate incident took place.
‘This indicates the motive behind levelling such baseless allegations. How can a person in prison arrange such high-profile killings,’ he added.[note: I say ask any mafioso and he’d tell you. It is no rocket science and no defense]
‘Allegations of kickbacks and involvement in the killing of French nationals against the person of the president are, therefore, highly unfortunate and seem to be part of a malicious campaign launched against the head of state of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,’ the spokesman said.
The Liberation report quoted a former executive of the French naval company DCN as saying that French authorities had chosen Al-Assir to act as intermediary in the deal and he allegedly deposited a total of $1.3 million in Mr Zardari’s bank accounts between Aug 15 and Aug 30, 1994, one month before the submarine contract was signed, and then $1.2 million and $1.8 million one year later.
According to DCN employees who testified in the terror attack investigation, the kickbacks to Pakistan in the deal totalled 10 per cent of the purchase amount, with 6 per cent, or $49.5 million, going to the military and 4 per cent, or 33 million euros, being funnelled to political circles.
In 2001, Pakistani Navy’s former chief of staff Mansour-ul-Haq was arrested for his part in the deal and forced to repay $7 million, the daily says.
Legal proceedings against Mr Zardari were dropped in April 2008, several months before he was elected president. He was imprisoned from 1997 to 2004 on corruption charges unrelated to this affair.
The president, according to the report, is one of his country’s richest men, with a net worth estimated at $1.8 billion.
The ongoing investigation in Paris into the May 8, 2002, terrorist attack that killed 11 DCN employees in Karachi may shed new light on the submarine purchase.
The victims were in Karachi to complete work on the three submarines. According to French media, the magistrate looking into the bombing has rejected the theory that it was the work of Al Qaeda.
He is now considering the possibility that it was carried out by Pakistanis, either because only 85 per cent of the agreed kickbacks to politicians had been paid or because of negotiations carried out by French authorities to sell submarines to India.
In any case, some French parliamentarians are now demanding to be allowed to look into how the submarine contract with Pakistan was negotiated and executed.
Note that the common link between the two accused, Zardari and Admiral Mansurul Haq is our very own Aitzaz who just happened to be the defense lawyer for both. Here I want to focus on the case of the latter as I have talked about it before. I had said:
Just came across an old (2001) story about another of Aitzaz’s clients which I think is funny in a way:
By Nasir Iqbal
ISLAMABAD, Oct 22: An accountability court indicted former naval chief Admiral Mansurul Haq for receiving commissions and kickbacks worth $3.369 million in defence deals.
Admiral Haq, however, pleading not guilty, submitted another application before the court with an offer to pay back the entire corruption money.
Aitzaz Ahsan advocate, the counsel for the accused, requested the court to direct the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to receive the kickback money.
The Accountability Court No I judge Rustum Ali Malik directed the prosecution to seek further instructions from the NAB chairman, since the application has been filed directly in the court.
The counsel, however, prayed the court to accept the plea-bargain application as after the amendment in the NAB ordinance 1999, the court had been empowered to decide the settlement requests.
An earlier request for plea-bargain was rejected by the NAB chairman.
What is funny is that Aitzaz’s client, upon indictment for receiving commissions and kickbacks worth $3.369 million in defence deals, pleads not guilty AND YET submits an application before the court with an offer to pay back the entire corruption money which certainly proves his guilt
I specially found this piece by Aitzaz hilarious:
“Aitzaz Ahsan advocate, the counsel for the accused, requested the court to direct the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to receive the kickback money.
I say “Guilty as charged!”