Monday, May 10, 2010

Did a French Kickback Lead to a Bombing in Pakistan?

The car bomb that rocked the streets of Karachi, Pakistan, on May 8, 2002, claimed 14 lives, but its continued reverberations in France threaten to claim victims of another sort entirely. A new French book delves into the Franco-Pakistani military contract that took the 11 French nationals who died in the bombing to Karachi in the first place. And along the way, it reinforces some dark suspicions: that the attack was the deadly implosion of a complex kickback scheme that allegedly implicates some of France's top political leaders — possibly even President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Written by investigative journalists Fabrice Arfi and Fabrice Lhomme, The Contract examines documents linked to the nearly $1 billion contract signed in 1994 committing France to selling three Agosta submarines to Pakistan. Those records, and interviews with people involved with the sale, confirm one previously reported detail: that the deal stipulated the payment of nearly $40 million to intermediaries for distribution to Pakistani officials who helped secure the accord. French laws didn't prohibit such kickbacks until 2000. What was illegal then, however, was the use of so-called retro-commissions, which involved skimming money off outgoing kickbacks for payment back to French officials — a setup that the book claims was part of the Agosta deal. ...............................Read More

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