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‘Zardari took huge bribe for French submarine deal’

Zardari took huge bribe for French submarine deal'

PARIS: Official Pakistani documents, detailing how President Asif Ali Zardari benefited from massive, secret payments connected to the sale of French submarines to Pakistan, have been seized as evidence by a Paris magistrate investigating a suspected widespread scam surrounding the deal.
The documents, published by Mediapart, show that the payments to Zardari and others took place on the fringes of the sale of three Agosta-class submarines by the French defence contractor, the DCN, to Pakistan in the 1990s. The French sale, which succeeded against rival offers by Swedish and German contractors, and the payment of bribes associated with it are at the core of what has become known as the Karachi affair' currently the subject of two French judicial investigations' The Nation reports.
A key allegation in the developing affair is that the cancellation of commissions paid out in the submarine deal triggered a suicide bomb attack in Karachi on May 8, 2002, killing eleven French engineers, who were in Pakistan to help build one of the submarines. Increasing evidence suggests that the cancellation of the commissions, ordered by former French president Jacques Chirac, was decided after it was discovered they were in part re-routed back to France to fund political activities of Chirac"s principal political rival, Edouard Balladur.
The documents, which were found during a French police search in June 2010 of the home of Amir Lodhi one of the intermediaries involved in securing the Agosta contract and a friend of Zardari provide the first clear details about the scale of the payments made to Zardari, amounting to several million euros, as well as the channels used, including offshore companies, bank accounts and the tax haven of the BritishVirgin Islands.
Zardari was one of the main benefactors of the paid bribes, according to a former SOFMA managing director, Henri Guittet, who evaluated the sum paid to Zardari as being 4% of the total value of the sales contract, which amounts to a value of 33 million euros.
The main document seized by French investigators is a photocopy of an original dated November 9, 1997, concerning a request by Pakistan to Switzerland for cooperation in a judicial investigation.

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