The Air Force may file a case with the international commercial arbitration court to seek the return of kickbacks that were allegedly paid during the procurement of French Mirage 2000 jet fighters in 1992.
In the wake of a ruling handed down on Monday by an international court of arbitration in Paris ordering French company Thales (formerly known as Thompson-CSF) to repay the Taiwanese government about US$861 million in kickbacks involved in the scandal-plagued Lafayette frigate deal, the Air Force said on Wednesday it was reviewing the Mirage deal.
If the Air Force decides that kickbacks were paid during the procurement of the fighter jets, it would decide whether to file a case with the international court, it said.
The court in Paris ordered ­Thales to repay the money given in unauthorized commissions to help Thomson-CSF win a deal to sell the six frigates for US$2.5 billion in 1991.
Taiwan ordered 48 single-seat Mirage 2000-5EI interceptors and 12 Mirage twin-seat 2000-5DI trainers in 1992. The first squadron became operational in 1997.
French newspaper Le Monde reported on Nov. 30, 2001, that a French judicial probe was opened that year to investigate claims that much of the money paid by Taiwan during the Lafayette deal went to commissions for middlemen, politicians and military officers in Taiwan, China and France.
However, an investigation by the judiciary in Taiwan alleged Andrew Wang (???), the main figure in the Lafayette scandal, might have received US$260 million in kickbacks over the course of the Mirage deal.
In August 2004, the Control Yuan announced that the Mirage deal was “suspicious” because the Air Force had originally reported the cost as 22.8 billion francs (worth US$4.3 billion in 1992), but then 6 billion francs was added to the bill at a later date. The Control Yuan requested a judicial probe be opened into the Mirage deal.
“The price of the procurement of the Mirage aircraft is obviously much more than their market price,” Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Hsien-yao (???) said on Wednesday.
He said he suspected the kickbacks paid in the deal were higher than those in the Lafayette deal.
In the Lafayette case, Taiwanese investigators said Thompson-CSF paid US$495 million to Wang and US$25 million to Alfred Sirven, a former vice chairman of French oil firm Elf-Aquitaine.
Wang fled Taiwan in late 1993 following the death of Navy Captain Yin Ching-feng (???), whose body was found in the sea off the east coast of Taiwan. Yin was believed to have been ready to blow the whistle on those who received kickbacks in the deal.

BY: The Taipei Times.