11
Oct
15

Malaysia’s Central Bank Defies AG, says there’s a 1MDB Case

In a stunning development, Malaysia’s central bank has issued a statement saying it had requested a criminal investigation into the affairs of the scandal-plagued 1Malaysia Development Bhd despite the fact that Prime Minister Najib Razak’s hand-picked Attorney General Mohamad Ali, to whom it had forwarded the case , said there was no reason for prosecution.

Najib fired the previous attorney general, Abdul Gani Patail, in September and replaced him with Ali, a former federal court judge, at the last minute after Gani reportedly had drawn up criminal charges against Najib and another unnamed official over the MDB scandal. Apandi Ali is considered a United Malays National Organization loyalist. Apandi’s most significant ruling on the country’s highest bench, before he retired, was to say that Christians, particularly Catholics, would not be allowed to use the word ‘Allah” to denote god in their literature and services.

“As an investigative authority, the bank is duty bound to conduct its investigations with the highest professional care and diligence,” according to the Bank Negara statement. “The bank at all times expects full and accurate disclosure of information by applicants in considering any application under the ECA. On its part, the bank concluded that permissions required under the ECA for 1MDB’s investments abroad were obtained based on inaccurate or without complete disclosure of material information relevant to the Bank’s assessment of 1MDB’s applications.”

Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the central bank governor, had delayed announcement of the results of the banking transactions by 1MB for several weeks. Sources in Kuala Lumpur said Zeti, one of the world’s most respected central bankers, was in essence blackmailed by forces aligned with Najib into previously burying the investigation over concerns that the government might prosecute her husband, Tawfik Ayman, because of secret overseas accounts. Rosmah Mansor, the prime minister’s wife, was reportedly involved in a campaign to drive Zeti from her position.

“I think it is the endgame,” said a well-connected Malaysian political observer. “But there is no way to know how it will end.”

Bank Negara’s defiance of the attorney general’s refusal to prosecute the case adds to pressures brought by the nine-member Council of Rulers – the country’s sultans – who in an unprecedented formal statement earlier this week warned that investigations into Najib’s affairs and 1MDB must be completed as soon as possible or the country’s image would be harmed. In the same statement, they warned that racial tensions are increasing and that steps must be taken to cool them off.

Despite its importance, the statement was relegated to the back pages of the mainstream press, which is owned by the governing political parties including UMNO. Home Affairs Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi issued a statement saying the one by the Sultans was aimed at the opposition for raising racial tensions. The attorney general’s closing down of the Bank Negara investigation was an apparent attempt to comply with the Sultans’ demand that the investigation be completed as soon as possible.

Najib and his allies have been involved in a wide-ranging campaign to stifle dissent over allegations of massive corruption, both personal and through UMNO. The government has used the loosely-worded sedition act or the “Security Offences (Special Measures Act (SOSMA),” passed in 2012 as a substitute to the colonial-era Internal Security Act, and other laws to arrest 138 government opponents.

…more
Malaysia’s Central Bank Defies AG, says there’s a 1MDB Case
October 9, 2015 – Asia Sentinel

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