Islamabad: A day after a report in a leading French newspaper revealed that Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has received millions of dollars in kickbacks during the purchase of three submarines from France in 1994, Zardari’s spokesman, Farhatullah Babar, rejected the report as a ‘conspiracy’ against the President.
The News quoted Babar as saying that the report was yet another attempt to defame Zardari.
The newspaper had reported that investigations have revealed that Zardari received USD 4.3 million in kickbacks from the sale of three Agosta 90 submarines for EUR 825 million (approximately USD 1.237 billion at current exchange rate).
The newspaper said that Pakistani National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was alerted about the massive scam way back in 2001.
The British authorities told the NAB that Zardari had received several large payments into his Swiss bank accounts from a Lebanese businessman, Abdulrahman el-Assir, during 1994 and 1995.
According to a former official of French naval defence company DCN, French authorities had selected Assir to act as intermediary in the deal.
He allegedly deposited a total of USD 1.3 million in Zardari’s bank accounts between August 15 and 30, 1994, a month before the submarine deal was finalised. An additional USD 1.2 million and USD 1.8 million were deposited in Zardari’s account a year later.
The newspaper report also revealed that investigators believe that the non-payment of the full amount of the agreed kickbacks may have led to the deaths of 11 French national in a suicide attack in Karachi in 2002.