Agosta scandal rocks French presidency
Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari got his nickname "Mr. Ten Percent" in the 1994 purchase of Agosta submarines for Pakistan military, worth 800 million Euros. The commission was fixed 80 million Euros, but Zardari allegedly got only 68 million Euros of that. The rest totalling $33 million got stuck as a result of French presidential politics.
Pakistan army and intelligence officials had other means to settle the score -- they allegedly killed 11 engineers working on those submarines in Karachi and put the blame on Islamic fundamentalists.
The scandal now threatens French president Nicolas Sarkozy as he was the budget minister when the shady transaction took place.
Pakistan has said it is open to investigate the killing of 11 engineers that appered to be the work of intelligence officials linked with the country's military.
Interestingly it was a deal of the Agosta submarines that gave Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari his now famous title of "Mr. Ten Percent."
Farahnaz Ispahani, spokesperson for Mr. Zardari and spouse of Pakistan ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani, denied the allegations.
Corruption in Pakistan is endemic, but with barely 25 percent actual literacy rate these largely go unnoticed or ignored by the masses, but France is a different story and the victims' families are now demanding an answer from Sarkozy.
Documents seized by French police allege that part of these "commissions" – legal under French law at the time – were illegally "kicked back" to help finance the 1995 presidential campaign of the then prime minister, Edouard Balladur. When Jacques Chirac won the election the following spring, it is alleged that he punished his old friend and acolyte for running against him by cancelling the remaining payments to senior Pakistani figures.