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Spain judge orders trial over corruption in Angola arms sales

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A Spanish judge on Monday ordered defunct state-owned arms company Defex and former managers to stand trial on charges they set up a complex bribery and embezzlement system for contracts signed in oil-rich Angola.

In his ruling, Jose de la Mata of Spain’s High Court said there was evidence that Defex obtained contracts to supply material to police in the African country by paying “illegal commissions” to Angolan authorities.

Some Defex managers are suspected of having collected heft commissions from these contracts.

De la Mata ordered Defex and 24 people, including former top company officials, to stand trial for corruption, money laundering and embezzlement.

Among those ordered to stand trial is Beatriz Garcia Paesa, the niece of a famous Spanish spy.

No date for the start of the rial was set.

De Mata is also investigating two other suspected cases of corruption involving the sale of weapons and military equipment by Defex to the governments of Cameroon and Saudi Arabia.

Defex was founded in 1972 by the Spanish state to help export products made by the country’s defence industry. It was dissolved in 2017.

France trims graft charges against ex-Malaysia PM associate
Paris (AFP) May 20, 2019 -
France has dropped some of the charges against an associate of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak over alleged kickbacks paid on a major submarine deal, judicial sources said Monday.

Najib himself is currently embroiled in a massive corruption scandal involving the state economic development fund 1MDB in Malaysia where he has also been questioned on the submarine case.

His associate, Abdul Razak Baginda advised Najib when the latter was defence minister between 2000 and 2008 on a deal worth some one billion euros ($1.18 billion) to buy two Scorpene-class submarines and one Agosta-class submarine from French naval dockyards unit DCN, linked to French defence group Thales.

An investigation into the deal launched in 2010 revealed that Terasasi, a firm whose main shareholder was Baginda, received an equivalent sum for what was billed as consultancy work.

Investigators believe it was really a front for kickbacks.

Razak Baginda was charged in France in July 2017 with “active and passive complicity in corruption” and “misappropriation of corporate assets.”

Judicial sources said the Paris appeal court had dropped the charges of “passive corruption” while retaining the remainder of the chargesheet.

Baninda’s lawyer Caroline Toby indicated she would appeal.

Four French defence industry executives have already been charged in the case.

They are two former chairmen of DCNI, Philippe Japiot and Dominique Castellan, and two former heads of Thales International Asia, Bernard Baiocco and Jean-Paul Perrier.

All four men deny the charges and say they did not have direct contact with Baginda.

The French investigators are also looking into allegations that 114 million euros was paid to a purported Malaysia-based shell company, Perimekar, as part of the deal. That company was controlled at the time by Razak Baginda’s wife.

However, that payment is likely to ultimately fall outside French jurisdiction as it was not made to a French company.

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Belgian leaders mull suspension of Saudi arms sales

Brussels (AFP) May 11, 2019

Belgian leaders are mulling the suspension of arms sales to Saudi Arabia, national broadcaster RTBF said Saturday after it was reported they had been used in Yemen.

Foreign Minister Didier Reynders told RTBF: “I think it would be good to suspend arms deliveries to Saudi Arabia” if it were shown they had been used “in an ongoing conflict, such as in Yemen,” in which case he said the regional Walloonian government “must” take that decision.

Belgium’s constitution places responsibility for such dec … read more

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