''Zardari received millions in kickbacks in French sub deal''

Posted By: Pti
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Islamabad, Jan 16 (PTI) A Paris magistrate, probing asuspected scam surrounding the sale of three Agosta-classFrench submarines to Pakistan''s navy, has seized as evidenceofficial Pakistani documents detailing how President Asif AliZardari "received kickbacks" worth several millions of eurosin the deal, says a media report.

The documents, revealed for the first time by Mediapart,a French online publication, show that the payments to Zardariand others took place on the fringes of the sale of threesubmarines by the French defence contractor DCN to Pakistan inthe 1990s. The French sale succeeded against rival offers bySwedish and German contractors.

The sale, and the payment of bribes associated with it�- officially termed as commissions - are at the core of whathas come to known as the ''Karachi affair'', currently thesubject of two French judicial investigations. The issue hasrocked the French political establishment with its potentialfar-reaching ramifications within France, Pakistan''s ''TheNation'' daily said quoting the Mediapart report.

A key allegation in the developing affair is that thecancellation of commissions paid out in the submarine deal wasthe motive behind a suicide bomb attack in Karachi on May 8,2002 that left 11 French engineers dead. They were in Pakistanto help build one of the Agosta submarines.

Increasing evidence suggests that cancellation of thecommissions, ordered by former French president JacquesChirac, was decided after it was discovered they were in partre-routed back to France to fund political activities ofChirac''s principal political rival, Edouard Balladur.

The documents now in possession of Paris-based judgeRenaud Van Ruymbeke were found during a French police searchin June 2010 of the home of Amir Lodhi, one of theintermediaries involved in securing the Agosta contract. Lodhiheld a copy of a report by a Pakistani anti-corruptionservice, the Ehtesab Cell, the report said.

Lodhi, 61, the brother of a former Pakistani ambassadorto the UN, is a close friend of Zardari, who became Presidentin 2008 one year after the assassination of his wife BenazirBhutto.

The raid on Lodhi''s home in the French capital wascarried out by detectives from the French police nationalfinancial investigation division, the DNIF.

The Ehtesab Cell documents were the object of a formalreport by the DNIF, established on June 17th, 2010, andreveal that Zardari received a kickback worth 6,934,296 eurosbetween October and December 1994, the report said.

That report is now among the evidence collected by VanRuymbeke in his investigation into the financial aspect of theAgosta submarine sale, and in particular whether commissionspaid abroad were re-routed to fund political activities withinFrance.

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