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Friday, December 30, 2011

Zahid to explain RM11 million agents’ fees

Sulaiman Kamal | 11:52 PM | | | | Best Blogger Tips

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The Defence Minister says he is ready to meet Zaid Ibrahim to get more information on the alleged kickbacks.
Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today said he will explain queries on the RM11 million “consultancy fees” paid to “agents” for the government’s recent purchase of six offshore patrol vessels (SPGVs).
Former Umno law minister and Kita president Zaid Ibrahim said last week that exorbitant amount of taxpayers’ money was spent unnecessarily on consultancy fees.
This, he had claimed, could be a way for corrupt officials to siphon kickbacks made from the RM9 billion purchase of the French made SPGVs, a transaction that he and other opposition leaders claimed was rife with controversy.

Zahid said Zaid was more than welcomed to meet him for explanation, and denied any wrongdoing.
“I am taking his claims in good faith. I invite Zaid to meet me to get more information,” he told reporters here.
“We are very transparent as the rakyat will have to know. We will explain to the public,” he added.
Documents provided by Zaid last week showed Boustead Naval Shipyard, former government defence contractor now privatised, had paid fees to European-based firms for “technical evaluation” fees through a Singapore account.
The former minister believed the employment of “agents” for defence procurement was not of military necessity but “necessary to channel corruption money” gained from possible kickbacks.
Price still being negotiated
The Najib administration had recently come under fire for the escalating cost of the SPGVs – from RM6 billion to RM9 billion – in a contract claimed to be rife with discrepancies, denting Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s pledges to ensure accountability in government procurement methods.
The SPGVs are designed and built by controversial French defence contractors DCNS which is the subject of immense scrutiny.
DCNS had also supplied Malaysia with the Scorpene submarines in another scandalous deal with purportedly kickbacks worth RM500 million involving persons close to Najib.
The deal is now under investigation by the French authorities.
Zahid denied that the cost of the six SPGVs had ballooned, saying no letter of award had been issued yet and the price is still under negotiation.
He questioned the DAP publicity chief Tomy Pua’s information on the issue and dared him to raise the issue face-to-face with him.
“Where does he get his figures from? From Kua Kia Soong, the former DAP MP?
“Pua should meet with me. Don’t be scared. I am not a lion or crocodile,” said Zahid.

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