Sunday, November 02, 2008

ACA begins probe into deferred RM1.6bil Eurocopter deal

SEREMBAN: The Anti-Corruption Agency has begun probing into the proposed purchase of 12 Eurocopters with its officers taking away several documents, connected to the now deferred RM1.6bil deal, from the Defence Ministry.

ACA director-general Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan said the agency would be thorough in the probe headed by its investigations director Datuk Shukri Abdull.

"We have already opened a file on this. We have taken several documents on the purchase of the helicopters from the ministry and are currently looking at them," he said.

He was speaking to reporters after opening a shooting competition organised by the agency at the Mantin shooting range near here.

Ahmad said the ACA would check to see if procedures for the purchase of the helicopters were adhered to.

"We want to see if there were any irregularities. We can't tell for sure if there was an element of corruption involved in the deal...we have to investigate this," he said.

He was asked to comment on a police report lodged by Parti Keadilan Rakyat deputy youth chief Fariz Musa against Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on alleged abuse of power in the proposed purchase of the helicopters.

The Opposition had also claimed that there were flaws in the deal as there had been no physical inspection and specification tests on the helicopter.

However, the purchase of the Eurocopter helicopters to replace the Sikorsky S61-A4 Sea Kings or Nuri helicopters was shelved earlier this week to reduce Government expenses in tight economic times.

On Friday, Najib had said that the Opposition was making a meal of the purchase, especially with its contention that the government had not conducted physical and specification inspections on the helicopter.

Najib, who was Defense Minister when the decision was made, said the Eurocopter was a proven helicopter in several developed nations, including France.

He said Malaysian pilots knew of the aircraft's capabilities as they had flown them at exhibitions as well as during last year's Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition.

Ahmad said the Public Accounts Committee could continue with its own probe into the matter.

"Let them (PAC) investigate this first. We will do so in stages," he said.

On a separate matter, Ahmad said the ACA has received reports on alleged money politics in the on going Umno divisional elections.

"These are serious can be in Umno or any other political party, we will surely investigate these reports," he said.

Ahmad said overall, every three out of 10 reports received by the ACA received were mere accusations.

"Many of these are also poison pen letters and the information given is sometimes insufficient.

"It is better if complainants lodge reports with us so that we can act accordingly," he added.

ACA begins probe into deferred RM1.6bil Eurocopter deal
Malaysia Star