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Categorie: Problems with projects (pagina 1 van 3)

French former officials go on trial over alleged kickbacks in ‘Karachi affair’

Three top former French government aides went on trial Monday charged with arranging a system of kickbacks on arms deals with Pakistan and Saudi Arabia in the 1990s.

The trial is the first to arise out of a sprawling investigation into the so-called Karachi affair, named after the Pakistani city where a bus carrying French defence engineers was blown up in 2002, killing 15 people.

Al-Qaeda was initially suspected of the attack, but the focus later shifted to the arms deals amid suspicions the bombing may have been revenge for non-payment of promised bribes.

A total of six people went on trial in a Paris criminal court Monday on suspicion of misappropriating part of the proceeds from the arms deals. They included three former government aides who served under conservative ex-prime minister Edouard Balladur.

Balladur, 90, was himself last week ordered to stand trial over claims that he used some of the kickbacks to fund his failed 1995 presidential bid. 

The three aides are Nicolas Bazire, Balladur’s former campaign manager; Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, a former advisor to his defence minister Francois Leotard; and Thierry Gaubert, a former aide to then budget minister Nicolas Sarkozy. 

Also accused are Dominique Castellan, a former head of the international division of French naval defence contractor DCN (since renamed Naval Group), and two Lebanese middlemen who allegedly acted as go-betweens for the bribes and kickbacks — Ziad Takieddine and Abdul Rahman El-Assir.

Lees verder bij France 24 

Australia’s new fleet of submarines could be ‘obsolete’ when they come into service in 2030s

Australia has been warned its first French-designed Attack-class submarine is likely to be inferior to those operated by neighbouring countries, and may even prove “obsolete” before it’s due into service in the 2030s.

A new report by veteran military analyst Derek Woolner, and fellow researcher David Glynne Jones, is urging the Defence Department to urgently embrace cutting-edge lithium-ion battery propulsion for its future submarines.

Their report concludes that Australia’s objective for the $50 billion Attack-class program to produce a “regionally superior” submarine is “now under challenge”. 

“By the time HMAS Attack [the first of the new submarines] hits the water in the early 2030s, it’s going to be obsolete,” Mr Woolner has told the ABC. 

The former government advisor said HMAS Attack would be built with a heavy metal main battery, as part of a process already initiated under a contract signed by France’s Naval Group company and MTU Friedrichshafen for diesel generator sets.

Key points:

  • Australia’s objective to produce a “regionally superior” submarine is “now under challenge”
  • An analyst says other countries are building boats with lithium-ion battery propulsion, which allows higher speeds and longer time underwater
  • Defence Minister Linda Reynolds joins French President Emmanuel Macron for first official inspection of new Suffren-class subs

Lees hier verder bij ABC news

FIOD-rechercheurs weg bij corruptie-onderzoek Damen

AMSTERDAM – Twee rechercheurs van de fiscale opsporingsdienst FIOD zijn van het strafrechtelijk onderzoek ’Bagdad’ naar vermeende smeergeldbetalingen van Damen Shipyards gehaald.

De FIOD deed begin 2017 invallen bij scheepsbouwer Damen, verdacht van smeergeldbetalingen in West-Afrika en Zuid-Amerika.

Aanleiding vormen gesprekken die de twee rechercheurs hebben gevoerd met journalisten van NRC Handelsblad.

Disciplinaire maatregelen

Dit schrijft hoofdofficier van justitie Margreet Fröberg aan de advocaat van Damen Shipyards. De FIOD-rechercheurs spraken volgens Fröberg meerdere malen zonder toestemming van het Openbaar Ministerie met twee NRC-journalisten over het lopende onderzoek naar Damen.

NRC publiceerde vervolgens diverse artikelen over de smeergeldaffaire. Er loopt volgens Fröberg nog een intern onderzoek naar eventuele disciplinaire maatregelen tegen de FIOD-medewerkers, die gedwongen werden een proces-verbaal op te maken van de gesprekken die zij met de journalisten Merijn Rengers en Carola Houtekamer van NRC voerden.

Fröberg is waarnemend hoofdofficier van het Funtioneel Parket (FP), onderdeel van het Openbaar Ministerie dat zich richt op grootschalige fraudezaken. De opsporingswerkzaamheden van de FIOD vallen onder de verantwoordelijkheid van het FP.

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When it comes to being a weird mob, the French are gold medallists

An interesting yarn out of the ABC this week noted the many cultural clashes between the French and the Australians thrown together in the $50 billion exercise underway in the Adelaide shipyards to build Australia’s future submarine fleet of a dozen Shortfin Barracudas using Francais savoir-faire and good ol’ Aussie grunt.

For you see, when the French display a little je-ne-sais-quoi, the mystified Australians talk something about raw prawns to their stunned French counterparts.

On that subject, the Australians have no clue why, for the French, meal times are so sacrosanct. And the French can’t get their head around the fact that Australians think burning some snags on a hot top can be called a meal at all.

Lees verder in de Sydney Morning Harald

Cultural clashes dividing French, Australian officials working on $50 billion ‘attack class’ submarine program

After securing the so-called “contract of the century”, the French company chosen to build Australia’s future submarines has conceded it’s having cultural clashes with its $50 billion customer, with lunch and meeting times proving problematic.

Key points:

  • The ABC has been told of numerous frustrations between French and Australian officials working on the contract
  • One official said Australians needed to understand the sanctity of the lunch break — not just a sandwich snatched at the screen
  • The French Naval Group is developing “intercultural courses” for French staff being posted to Australia

In 2016, former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced French company Naval Group, then known as DCNS, had been awarded the lucrative contract, beating rival bids from Germany’s TKMS and the Japanese Government.

Since that time the ABC has been told of numerous difficulties and frustrations between French and Australian officials, although a long-awaited strategic partnering agreement was finally signed earlier this year.

In a series of candid interviews with the defence industry publication, Naval Group officials have now offered insights into the problems the French company is facing in dealing with Australia.

“Not everyone thinks like the French,” explained Jean-Michel Billig, Naval Group’s program director for the project to build 12 new “attack class” submarines.

Lees verder bij ABC

Netanyahu Backs Former Confidant, Embroiled in Bribery Case, in Likud Primary

Ex-bureau chief David Sharan, suspected of receiving millions for promoting a $2b deal to purchase German submarines, is one of many vying for top spots ■ Who to watch for in Tuesday’s vote?

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday that he was backing his former bureau chief David Sharan, suspected of accepting bribes in a high-profile corruption case, for the Tel Aviv district ticket in the Likud primary, set for Tuesday, ahead of the April 9 general election.

Sharan is suspected of receiving 130 million shekels (about $36 million) from the Israeli representative for the German corporation ThyssenKrupp in exchange for promoting a contested $2 billion deal to purchase submarines for the Israeli navy. His case has been transferred to the State Prosecutor’s Office and awaits final decision on indictments.

Lees verder bij Haaretz

France, Germany aim to unify their clashing weapons-export rules

COLOGNE, Germany — The German Cabinet has approved a new, high-level pact with France that calls for a common approach to weapons exports in all joint programs.

The objective is included in the so-called Aachener Vertrag, slated to be signed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the German city of Aachen on Jan. 22. The document is meant to be a milestone agreement complementary of the Élysée Treaty, signed 56 years ago, further cementing ties on all levels between the former World War II foes.

Berlin and France previously clashed over the question of export limitations for the Future Combat Air System, a sixth-generation warplane envisioned to take flight sometime around 2040, Germany’s Der Spiegel reported last fall. France generally is open to exporting arms to many governments willing to pay for them. German leaders profess to take a more cautious approach when human rights concerns crop up, though the government has a history of making arms deals through the back door anyway. The different philosophies came to a head following the death of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Oct. 2, which some have alleged was orchestrated by Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The Saudi ruling family has denied the allegations, buoyed by the Trump administration’s decision to play down the matter.

The allegations led Merkel to publicly call for halting weapons exports to Saudi Arabia, a move that drew a sharp rebuke from Paris, where officials fumed about what they perceived as German sanctimoniousness.

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How Romania want to lose Naval Group at all costs in favor of Damen

For unclear reasons, Romania is desperately trying to win the Dutch Damen at the expense of Naval Group … who won the tender. Paris is ready to step up to defend the offer of naval group.

Naval Group could certainly lose the tender for the sale of four Gowind corvettes it has yet won in Romania, according to sources concurring. How is it possible? The Romanian government, which is expected to announce the selection of a supplier on January 12, has long been rolling for Damen, a partner in the Romanian yard Galati, of which 49% of the capital is held by the Dutch naval group, alongside the Romanian state (51%). This is particularly the case of one of the most powerful men in Romania, the Social Democrat President of the Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea, who makes and defeats governments.

But a very, very big grain of sand has stopped the process as imagined by Bucharest: Naval Group, in cooperation with the Romanian yard SNC, presented to the bad surprise of the Romanian authorities in early December when opening the envelopes, the best-performing offer in terms of price for four Gowind corvettes manufactured in Romania: 1.2 billion euros, against 1.25 billion for Damen and 1.34 billion for Fincantieri. A real icy shower for Bucharest, which already had to cancel a process of acquiring four corvettes for procedural irregularities committed in favor of Damen in 2016.

Find a reason to bring down Naval Group
For the Romanians, the result of early December is messy. All the more so since the Romanian press’s revelations of the alleged corruption of Damen have flourished in many articles in recent weeks. For the government, the whole question is to find a parade to legally assign the contract to Damen and dress this decision by artifice. It is from here that some maneuvers (audit, prolonged examination of the file …) come to make Naval Group fall or, at best, bog down the file and thus avoid a victory of the French naval group. In Paris, this situation and these behaviors that crossed the white line exasperated at the highest level. Moreover, it is expected, according to our information, that Florence Parly calls her new counterpart Gabriel Les, appointed November 20 last instead of Mihai Fifor, an opponent of Liviu Dragnea. A timely discussion as the new Romanian Defense Minister announced on 3 December, during a political broadcast on B1TV, that the government’s decision would be unveiled on 12 January. The Minister of defense should remind Bucharest that France is very attached to the rules of international law. In Romania, former President Traian Băsescu (2004-2014), accused on November 20, via his Facebook account, Liviu Dragnea, to want to influence the tender.

Is France a partner for Romania?
In 2008, France and Romania concluded a strategic partnership. A partnership that has been reaffirmed several times, and again recently. During the visit of the Romanian President to Paris on November 27, Klaus Iohannis, the two countries, in a context of increasing instability of our strategic environment, explained that “the strengthening of cooperation in the field of defense will continue to represent a priority, based on the commitments made by both countries in the EU and NATO framework and in support of the objectives of the EU-NATO Strategic Partnership “. In addition, the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron, went to Romania on 24 and 25 August 2017.

The corvette case is also reminiscent of another complicated case, which has become clearer in recent weeks: Airbus Helicopters. Bucharest has been walking for two years with the builder in Marignane while dredging openly in parallel, the American Bell helicopters, while Romania has forged a cooperation of almost 50 years with Airbus Helicopters, The Romanians had been in March in the United States, which has two military bases in Romania. Specifically, they went to Bell’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, to the American manufacturer’s factory in Amarillo, and finally to Pendleton Camp to talk to the Marines about the Viper. According to our information, the Romanians have backtracked.

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Future submarines could arrive late and cost more, confidential negotiations reveal

The first of Australia’s new submarines could arrive late and cost substantially more than expected as Defence attempts to finalise the terms of the $50 billion project.

Senior sources confirmed the “unprecedented” offer to allow an extra two years and 25 per cent cost increase was initially rejected by the French owned shipbuilder, Naval Group.

It instead wanted a three-year schedule delay and for an allowance of a 30 per cent increase in delivery costs, but the company later backed down.
The ABC can also reveal that negotiations between Defence officials and Naval Group became so tense that a former senior bureaucrat was hired in a bid to help resolve protracted disagreements.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull announced Naval Group, then known as DCNS, had been selected for the lucrative project in 2016.

The French bid was successful in a competitive evaluation process (CEP), beating rival offers from Germany’s TKMS and the Japanese Government.

Unlike a regular military tender process, the CEP did not involve detailed commercial contracts being submitted to the Defence Department.

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Japan offers to help build Australia’s future submarine fleet if French deal falls through

Japan’s visiting Foreign Minister says his country would still be prepared to export its submarines to Australia if protracted contract negotiations between Defence and French company Naval Group eventually collapse.

In a wide-ranging interview with the ABC before departing Sydney, Foreign Minister Taro Kono also signalled Japan would be willing to conduct joint maritime patrols with Australia in the South China Sea, and expressed hope that troop rotations would occur “soon”.

Last month the ABC revealed growing government frustrations with Naval Group over the $50 billion future submarine project, and concerns that a key strategic partnering agreement is unlikely to be signed before the end of the year.

In his only interview following talks with Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, Mr Kono said Tokyo would be willing to step in if Australia decided to look at other options for the replacement of the ageing Collins Class fleet.

“That’s possible – but it’s up to the Australian government to decide,” Mr Kono said. In 2016 Tokyo expressed deep disappointment after the Turnbull government awarded the lucrative submarine contract to the French over rival Japanese and German bids.Mr  Kono stressed he did not know how long it would take Japan to prepare another offering if Australia were to again approach his government.

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