PKonweb Report— Former French Prime Minister Edouard Balladur was charged Tuesday for his potential involvement in a two-way corruption scandal linked with the sale of submarines to Pakistan in the mid-1990s, media sources said.
The charges relate to Balladur’s misappropriation of corporate funds and concealing payments allegedly made by Pakistani intermediaries and which were used by Balladur to finance his failed bid to become president of France in 1995, “France 24” reported.
The court will attempt to determine Balladur’s role in authorizing payments to intermediaries in Pakistan to promote the sale of three Agosta-class submarines and also investigate if he received kick-backs of part of these payments from the intermediaries.
According to French Judicial sources cited by The Telegraph, some 50 million Euros were paid as ‘sweeteners’ to various senior Pakistani military and political leaders.
Former Defense Minister Francois Leotard has also been charged in relation to the Agosta submarine commissions.
More seriously, however, after Balladur failed in his attempt to become president, his rival Jacques Chirac decided to halt all payments in the Augusta submarine case and investigators believe French engineers were targeted in a bomb attack in Pakistan as a retaliation to the halt in commission payments.
Eleven French naval engineers were among 15 people killed in a bomb attack on their bus in Karachi in 2002 and investigators are seeking to link this attack to the commission scandal.
Families of those killed in the bombing have been attempting for years to get a judicial case brought against the government and Balladur and other ministers for their alleged misconduct in the so-called “Karachi Affair”.
Balladur, 88, denies any wrongdoing and says he will fight the charges, which were brought after he appeared before a Special Tribunal of the Republic, which is necessary to rule in the case of a former Prime Minister.
Balladur’s office said he would contest the decision in France’s highest appeals court.
“There is no evidence in the files seen by lawyers that he personally participated in his capacity as prime minister in setting up a system of kickbacks to finance his election campaign in 1995,” the statement from his office said, Reuters reported.