Tuesday, June 22

Taiwan wins damages over French defence sale

GOOD! I quote:

France’s arms industry was under scrutiny on Tuesday after an arbitration court ordered the payment of €630m ($820m) in damages to Taiwan over a controversial defence sale that has dogged politicians in Paris and Taipei for two decades.

The ruling comes as France faces allegations of bribery over the sale of submarines to Malaysia in 2002 and as questions are being raised over a similar deal with Pakistan in the 1990s.

Thales and the French state were fined over commissions linked to a sale of six Lafayette class frigates to Taiwan in 1991, in breach of the contract banning the use of intermediaries.

Thales, at the time known as Thomson-CSF, is liable for 27.5 per cent of the fine, in line with its share of the contract, and the French state is responsible for the balance.

The intensely political controversy has touched the highest levels of government in both Taipei and Paris, with allegations against top-ranked Taiwanese defence officers and a former French minister.

The frigate affair was even used in the Clearstream smear scandal that pitched French President Nicolas Sarkozy against his arch-rival Dominique de Villepin, over claims that kickbacks from the deal ended up in accounts – later proved to be forged – of senior French politicians.

In October, French investigators abandoned a separate criminal inquiry into whether some of the payments helped fund political campaigns, due to lack of evidence. The French government has repeatedly refused to release certain documents, citing “defence secrets”.

Thales said it would appeal against the decision by the International Chamber of Commerce’s International Court of Arbitration. “Thales disputes the very grounds of this decision. The company will initiate all available proceedings and actions against this award,” it said.

French government officials refused to comment, though Wu Den-yih, Taiwan’s premier, welcomed the ruling.

The affair came to light when a Taiwanese Navy captain and head of the island’s procurement office was found dead, floating off the coast of Taiwan in December 1993. His death sparked controversy over Taiwan’s decision to buy French frigates after initially favouring cheaper South Korean vessels.

French relations with China, which claims sovereignty over Taiwan, also suffered over the sale.

The arms industry has a long shadow, specially with emerging markets. It stinks and the fact that politicians go about helping this corrupt behaviour is criminal. This is so shameful, the French State itself has been found corrupt. I know this could well be met with a Gallic shrug but come on, guys, you are supposed to be civilised and all that, proud of your culture, your education, your principles and your language. How does it feel when people say that’s all very fine and good, but where did all this culture and principles go when dealing with Taiwan?


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