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Delhi student was Khan?s n-salesman

B. S. A. Tahir, a prominent Malaysian businessman led two lives. One of a soft-spoken husband and other of a flashy n-salesman.

india Updated: Feb 20, 2004 13:05 IST
The New York Times
The New York Times

B. S. A. Tahir, a prominent Malaysian businessman, seems to have led two lives. The New Delhi-educated, South Indian-born Tahir was known as a soft-spoken husband and father who lived in a posh part of Kuala Lumpur, with a passion for fast cars and flashy clothes.

He has a financial interest in a chocolate franchise in a fashionable shopping mall and a nearby gourmet date shop. In addition. Tahir has been director of a holding firm called Kaspadu, which used to be owned by his wife in partnership with the Malaysian prime minister’s son.

Investigators are trying to find out whether Tahir's legitimate businesses have been a cover for nuclear smuggling activities, Malaysian officials said.

George W. Bush has called him the "chief financial officer and money launderer" of A.Q. Khan's nuclear smuggling ring.

Two years ago Tahir put together a deal for a Malaysian firm, Scomi Precision, to make nuclear-centrifuge parts for Libya without telling the firm where the parts were going. The deal was exposed last October with a ship was seized.

Parent firm Scomi Group is owned by Kaspadu. Investigators say Tahir, a Sri Lankan who came to Malaysia in the mid-1990's, may have been Khan’s procurer of nuclear parts.

Tahir has not been arrested, but is under close surveillance.

Bukhary Seyed Abu Tahir was born in Tamil Nadu on April 17, 1959. When he was five, his family moved to Sri Lanka. He then went to New Delhi to study. It was then that an uncle met Khan and became one of his suppliers. In his early 20's, Tahir moved to Dubai and opened a successful computer firm.

In the mid-1990's, Tahir showed up in Kuala Lumpur and formed links with the son of Malaysia's present ruler.

In 2001 Tahir negotiated a contract with Scomi to make components. He was then on Kaspadu's board. Tahir said the parts were for Gulf Technical, a Dubai firm owned by Peter Griffin, a longtime Khan supplier.

Malaysian officials say they never had reason to suspect Tahir. One, looking at the date and chocolate shops, said Tahir "appeared very legitimate."

First Published: Feb 19, 2004 03:21 IST