Rafizi: Offshore firm siphoned RM192 mil from LCS project, modus operandi same like 1MDB

(Photo by Zahid Izzani/The Edge)

(Photo by Zahid Izzani/The Edge)

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Rafizi Ramli (The Edge filepix)

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 18): A total of RM192 million from the littoral combat ships (LCS) project had been transferred to several offshore accounts and can no longer be traced, PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli has claimed.

An internal investigation by Boustead Heavy Industries Corporation Bhd (BHIC) on the LCS project had alleged that RM192 million was siphoned off.

Referring to an internal probe by BHIC on the LCS project, Rafizi said Malta-based Alizes Marine Ltd was among offshore companies that received numerous payments for non-existent delivery services.

The company was also named in the Panama Papers/Paradise Papers, which disclose how offshore companies hide money from illegal activities around the world.

"After reviewing the invoices of certain suppliers, the investigation team found a total of RM23.37 million in fake payments. The invoices were sent to a subcontractor of the LCS project for a technical service that does not actually exist. When these suppliers were tracked, it turns out that the company does not exist at all, as the address details provided are incorrect. In fact, verification shows that payment has been made to other accounts,” said Rafizi in a statement on Thursday (Aug 18).

“The modus operandi is similar to the method used to steal the money from 1MDB. All over the world, fake companies are set up with a name similar to a real existing company. The invoice is sent by one company, but the payment instructions say the invoice is to be paid to an account registered under a company with an almost same name, but is a different company," the former federal lawmaker claimed.

No licence to supply defence spare parts

Rafizi noted that Alizes Marine was appointed as a "sub-contractor" to supply spare parts for the LCS project on recommendation of a French subcontractor, DCNS. DCNS is the technical contractor for the LCS project, having supplied the design and technical specifications of the Gowind.

Alizes Marine Ltd was proposed as the French defence supplier company, under the name of Alizes Marine France.

He said the LCS project management was informed that Alizes Marine France has a global export licence that gives the company an advantage in supplying defence spare parts. However, this information is incorrect, as the company does not have a licence but is only an offshore company with no operations.

“Although the LCS project received invoices that appeared to come from Alizes Marine France, the payments are actually made to an account in Singapore, owned by another company using the name Alizes Marine Ltd.

“DCNS used Alizes Marine as a front to benefit from the supply of spare parts on the arrangement made and carved in Malaysia,” said Rafizi, adding that the conclusion of the internal investigation clearly shows the involvement of DCNS in this scheme of fund misappropriation.

In addition, investigation also found that DCNS and “another company from France” are part of a scheme that transfers money from the LCS project, which violated the Money Laundering Act, said Rafizi.  

This was confirmed when the investigators compared the amount paid by the LCS project to buy spare parts for Alizes Marine Ltd (compared to the total turnover which is reported in the financial statements of Alizes Marine France) for the period of 2011 to 2015, he said.

During that period, the subcontractors of the LCS project paid 43.69 million euro (around RM210 million) to Alizes Marine France (based on invoices sent but paid to other accounts under Alizes Marine Ltd) for the purchase of spare parts.

On the other hand, the total turnover reported in Alizes Marine France's financial statements reported to the French authorities was only 3.53 million euro (RM18 million). This means, a total of RM192 million has been transferred to the accounts of offshore companies' uncharted shores.

“If schemes involving offshore companies are accused of being involved with DCNS, and [if] DCNS has a record of paying bribes to companies linked to (former prime minister) Datuk Seri Najib Razak during the Scorpene scandal before, then [no wonder] people continue to demand an investigation to find out who is the real mastermind and has power in protecting DCNS," said Radizi.

Only Najib and former defence ministers Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussin can answer this question, he added.

S Kanagaraju