‘No decision yet on calling Latiff’

PUTRAJAYA: Graft investigators have yet to decide whether to call Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad over his alleged links with the littoral combat ship (LCS) controversy.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Tan Sri Azam Baki said the matter was still being looked into.

“We are still investigating. I cannot comment just yet. We need to check,” he said.

On Aug 22, PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli alleged that companies linked to the second wife of a former deputy defence minister were involved in the LCS scandal.

Rafizi had linked one “Zainab Mohd Salleh” to an offshore company with units incorporated in tax havens such as Malta and Labuan.

The declassified forensic report on LCS scandal involving Boustead Heavy Industries Corp Bhd (BHIC) named a couple, Abdul Latiff Ahmad and Zainab Mohd Salleh, as the individuals linked to Alizes Marine Ltd.

Dr Latiff has since denied that any of his family members were involved in the LCS project and lodged a police report over the claims.

Asked on the latest development into the probe, Azam said investigators needed more time as it was not just a matter of governance.

“We are also looking if there are elements of criminality involved in the LCS case. We need more time to probe, including if we need to call witnesses from abroad,” he said after a MACC law enforcement accredited programme convocation held here yesterday.

The PAC report presented to Parliament on Aug 4 said some RM1.4bil in government allocation for the LCS project signed in 2014 was used for other purposes, including cost overruns.

Meanwhile, the French government is said to have given its commitment to ensure that the LCS project becomes a priority for all stakeholders.

Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Nazim Abdul Rahman, who disclosed this, said the commitment was conveyed in a letter to Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

“Naval Group, a holding company of the French Government, is a company that designed the LCS ship and is the main anchor of the 43 European firms involved in the project.

“Renegotiating with these companies is a complicated process that requires government-to-government (G2G) relations,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said the supporting statement by the French government showed a commitment that all stakeholders were working together to ensure the completion of the LCS project.

Ahmad Nazim added that the Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) board had also decided to cancel the project’s contract award letters to Contraves Advance Devices Sdn Bhd (CAD) and Contraves Electrodynamics Sdn Bhd (CED) which were worth RM3.4bil.

“Both companies are the ‘middleman’ that are currently being investigated for various allegations of corruption and violations of the law.

“This decision will enable BNS to negotiate directly with production companies and at the same time reduce the overall construction cost,” he said.

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