Following reports of payment of kickbacks (in the form of consulting fees, of 4% of contract value, to a Panamanian front company, Mercor Finance Inc.) in the sale of 3 Agosta submarines to Pakistan, the website http://www.france24.com/ has been blocked in Pakistan [the inaccessible story in English, is posted here; in French here, has been translated into English and is posted here; and another here]. The story has been covered, cautiously, by Pakistani newspapers [see, for example, Dawn].
While details were not publicly known, the fact that kickbacks had been paid was widely known in Pakistan, and the front man, Pakistan’s then navy chief, Admiral Mansur-ul-Haq, had escaped to the United States. According to press reports, in April 2001,
Hearings are due to begin tomorrow in the United States after an extradition request by Pakistan for an ex-naval chief accused of taking bribes from European defence companies. Admiral Mansur-ul-Haq is accused of receiving “kickbacks” in a $1bn deal with Agosta of France for three submarines.
In May 2001, Newsline reported on the charges against the admiral involving kickbacks “amounting to 3,369,383 dollars in the purchase of an Edrian class minesweeper from France; [a kickback of 6% of contract value on] the supply of SM 39 missiles from the French firm, Aerospatiale[; ... of which] Mansur claimed 50 per cent[; similar amounts on the sale of] naval equipment by the French firm, Thompson CSF[;] and lastly, … 200,000 dollars from Malik Riaz Hussain in return for allowing him the contract for Bahria Town, a housing project for naval personnel.”
Interestingly, in this report, the Agosta kickback is not reported to have been a part of the charge sheet prepared by the National Accountablity Bureau. If true, then the admiral may be open to fresh corruption charges, despite the US-brokered National Reconciliation Ordinance, under which criminals in politics were granted amnesty.
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