French minister queries Asia bribe case leaks

1st March 2005, Comments 0 comments

SINGAPORE, March 1 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie raised questions Tuesday over "leaks" about a bribery case involving a Singaporean allegedly claiming to represent European aerospace giant EADS.

SINGAPORE, March 1 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie raised questions Tuesday over "leaks" about a bribery case involving a Singaporean allegedly claiming to represent European aerospace giant EADS.

Alliot-Marie told journalists at the end of a brief visit, during which she urged Singapore to buy the French-made Rafale in an imminent fighter supply contract, that she was surprised by "leaks" about the bribery case.

"My visit had been planned a long time ago and actually we were all very surprised by the leaks and we were wondering about what's at stake, what is the interest of these leaks," she said.

The minister, who flew to Singapore from Yemen for a hectic five-hour visit, said her trip was "not at all" connected to the EADS case.

Alliot-Marie met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean and Deputy Prime Minister Tony Tan, the coordinating minister for security and defence, to discuss military cooperation.

She said she discussed the fighter issue with the Singapore officials. The Rafale is competing with the US-made Boeing F-15 and the Eurofighter Typhoon, manufactured by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

EADS, partly owned by the French government, last week said it had no association with a man who was charged with trying to bribe a Singaporean official for information about an earlier naval helicopter deal.

The helicopter deal was eventually won by a US contractor.

Eng Heng Chiaw, 46, was charged last week with offering a defence ministry official SGD 500,000 Singapore dollars (EUR 233,100) to secure tender details about an EADS competitor.

Alliot-Marie reiterated Tuesday that "EADS management expressed a wish to have an inquiry very quickly on these rumours and these leaks."

"The EADS really wants an investigation to be conducted because they do not know who has an interest in setting up these accusations against them," the French minister said.

The contract in question was for six naval helicopters and was awarded to Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. from the United States.

A copy of the charge sheet said Eng wanted information "about the price offered by the competitor in a naval helicopter project so that a company, European Aeronatics Defence and Space (EADS) SEA P/L, could price its offer to secure the said project."

© AFP

Subject: French News

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