Friday, January 16, 2009

Scomi Chief Among 13 On US List For Alleged Role In Nuclear Proliferation

US slaps sanctions on KL businessman. The US sanctions do not apply to listed companies such as Scomi Group. But several bankers say that the unwelcome designation of its CEO and main shareholder by the US could hurt the group's efforts to expand its engineering and manufacturing business overseas.

Its core activities include oil and gas and building monorail systems. Currently, it is pursuing contracts for monorail projects in India and the Middle East. Mr Shah Hakim did not respond to a request for comment for this report, and the US State Department statement did not detail the grounds on which the Malaysian businessman was designated under the censure order.

But regional intelligence officials said that the businessman's designation is related to fund transfers from Libya and Lebanon to finance the manufacture of centrifuge components manufactured by a Scomi subsidiary.

Ever since the nuclear-smuggling ring was exposed in late 2003, Scomi executives have maintained that they were never involved in any nuclear proliferation activities.

They also insisted that the company was misled by Mr Tahir, who was a key associate of Dr Khan, into manufacturing centrifuge parts for unspecified overseas customers involved in the oil and gas industry. Mr Tahir's wife was a one-time shareholder of Scomi.

The Malaysian government at the time also cleared Scomi, in which Datuk Seri Abdullah's only son Kamaluddin is a major shareholder, of any wrongdoing. The Malaysian government has yet to publicly comment on the latest sanctions. But diplomats and regional intelligence officials said that the US sanctions have raised doubts over those assertions.

The nuclear smuggling ring was exposed in October 2003 when European intelligence officials intercepted a Libya-bound shipment of centrifuge components produced by a Scomi subsidiary.

After a lengthy international investigation, Mr Tahir was detained under the ISA, after the Malaysian police discovered that he secretly brought seven Libyan technicians to be trained to operate high-technology machines at the Scomi-run facility to produce centrifuge parts. Mr Tahir was released last year after the Malaysian government declared that he no longer posed a security threat to the country. He continues to reside in Malaysia.

Article from Mr. Jesper Lee (Cimb)

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