Archive for March, 2016

31
Mar
16

1MDB Probe Shows Najib Spent Millions on Luxury Goods – WSJ

1MDB Probe Shows Malaysian Leader Najib Spent Millions on Luxury Goods

Bank documents show accounts of prime minister paid out $15 million for clothes, jewelry and a car

HONOLULU, Hawaii – On Christmas Eve 2014, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak stepped onto Hawaii’s 18-hole Kaneohe Klipper course for a round of golf diplomacy with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Off the fairways, another side of Mr. Najib’s time in office was on display. Two days earlier, the prime minister’s credit card was charged $130,625 to Chanel in Honolulu, according to Malaysian investigation documents. A person who works at a Chanel store in the upscale Ala Moana Center recalls Mr. Najib’s wife shopping there just before Christmas.

The credit card was paid from one of several private bank accounts owned by Mr. Najib that global investigators believe received hundreds of millions of dollars diverted from a government investment fund set up by the prime minister in 2009. The fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, today is at the center of corruption probes by authorities in Malaysia and at least five other nations.

The Malaysian investigation documents, viewed by The Wall Street Journal, contain bank-transfer information that provides the most complete picture to date of the money that flowed through the prime minister’s accounts over a five-year period, the majority of it, investigators say, originating from 1MDB.

They show for the first time how some of the money in Mr. Najib’s accounts allegedly was used for personal expenses. That included $15 million in spending on clothes, jewelry and a car, according to the bank-transfer information, involving stores in the U.S., Malaysia, Italy and elsewhere.

The disclosures appear to undermine key claims Mr. Najib and his allies have made in his defense, including that none of the money went toward personal expenses. They also detail how Mr. Najib used the funds to operate a large political machine, with money flowing from his accounts to politicians, think tanks and lawyers during a close election in 2013.

Mr. Najib, who was seen by Washington as a liberal, Western-friendly leader when he first came into power in 2009, didn’t respond to requests for comment. He has strenuously denied wrongdoing.

A lawyer for Mr. Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, declined to comment. The 1MDB fund also didn’t respond to questions. It has denied sending money to Mr. Najib’s accounts or other wrongdoing and said it is cooperating with probes.

In all, the documents show over $1 billion entered five accounts belonging to Mr. Najib at AmBank Bhd., a Malaysian bank, between 2011 and 2015.

As previously reported, $681 million was transferred via a web of entities in March 2013, money which investigators in two countries believe originated with 1MDB, the government fund. Malaysian investigators believe another set of transfers in 2014 and 2015, totaling $25 million, came from an entity known as SRC International Bhd., a company that originally was controlled by 1MDB but was transferred to the Finance Ministry in 2012. Mr. Najib also is the finance minister.

After the Journal first reported those transfers last July, Mr. Najib wrote a post on Facebook saying: “Let me be very clear: I have never taken funds for personal gain as alleged by my political opponents—whether from 1MDB, SRC International or other entities, as these companies have confirmed.”

Malaysia’s attorney general in January cleared Mr. Najib of wrongdoing, saying $681 million that entered his accounts in 2013 was a legal donation from the Saudi royal family, and that most of it was returned. Mr. Najib’s defenders have said any money spent in Malaysia went for political purposes, which they say is permissible.

Malaysian authorities haven’t commented on the other money alleged to have entered Mr. Najib’s accounts.

The latest Malaysian investigation documents reviewed by the Journal contradict the attorney general’s account. They show transfers from a person in Saudi Arabia and from the country’s finance ministry, but they occurred earlier, in 2011 and 2012, and are of smaller amounts, totaling $200 million. The finance ministry didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The documents show the prime minister made more than 500 payments from his accounts, the bulk of them to political players. Tens of millions of dollars of such payments occurred ahead of the May 2013 elections, which Mr. Najib’s party risked losing for the first time since Malaysia’s independence from Britain in 1957.

The payments from the prime minister’s accounts at this time included nearly $7 million to the private account of one of Mr. Najib’s four brothers, who is chairman of CIMB Group Holdings Bhd., a government-controlled bank.

Nazir too

Nazir Razak, the brother, confirmed to the Journal in a written statement he received the money, which he said was disbursed by bank staff to ruling-party politicians according to the instructions of party leaders.

He said he believed the money originated with donations he had helped raise from Malaysian corporations and individuals for the elections.

“I had no knowledge whatsoever that these funds may have originated from any other source(s),” he said. “The entire amount was paid out in cash to various recipients according to the instructions of the party president and the account was closed with a zero balance.”

A spokeswoman for CIMB declined to comment.

Another transfer of almost $70,000, on July 4, 2014, went to the prime minister’s son, Nor Ashman Najib, according to the documents. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

The money flowing to Mr. Najib’s account is only part of a much larger amount thatinvestigators believe was misappropriated from 1MDB, which raised over $11 billion in debt, much of it from global investors. Swiss authorities, who along with the U.S., Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi and Singapore are probing the fund, say 1MDB-related losses from misappropriation could reach $4 billion.

Several investigations by Malaysia’s central bank, a parliamentary committee, the country’s auditor general, Malaysia’s antigraft agency and police, are continuing.

The Malaysian investigation documents show that around $170 million entered the prime minister’s accounts from other offshore companies set up to look like bona-fide financial giants such as Blackstone Group LP.

Investigators in two countries are probing the origin of the money that came from Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners, a British Virgin Islands company, and whether any of it also originated from 1MDB.

A spokeswoman for Blackstone Group said the U.S. company had no knowledge of this offshore entity.

A report on Australian Broadcasting Corp.’s Four Corners program said that some of the money transfers into Mr. Najib’s accounts triggered internal money-laundering alarms inside AmBank. The bank didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Some $44 million from Mr. Najib’s accounts was recorded as going to a company called Solar Shine Bhd. The firm was used by the ruling party to distribute small handouts like food and stationery to voters around elections, according to newspaper reports and a person familiar with the matter. Ruling-party organizations and think-tanks got large amounts, according to the documents.

Attempts to locate Solar Shine weren’t successful.

Of the apparent personal spending, one of the most regular recipients of funds from Mr. Najib’s accounts was Jakel Trading Bhd., a Malaysian luxury clothing retailer. Between 2011 and 2014, Mr. Najib transferred over $14 million to Jakel, according to the documents. The company specializes in traditional Malay formal wear, suits, wedding attire and home furnishings.

Attempts to reach Jakel weren’t successful.

There was a recorded expenditure on June 28, 2011, at Signature Exotic Cars, a car dealership in Kuala Lumpur, for $56,000. Signature’s managing director, Daniel Lim, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Najib’s credit card also incurred charges of €750,000 in August 2014 at an Italian branch of De Grisogono, a Swiss-owned jewelry store, again being financed from the same account as the expenses in Hawaii, according to bank-transfer information that forms part of the Malaysian government probe.

A person who works for De Grisogono confirmed Ms. Rosmah, the prime minister’s wife, was a client of a branch of the jewelers in Porto Cervo, a tony Sardinian resort. De Grisogono declined to comment.

She joined Mr. Najib for his 2014 trip to Hawaii, where Mr. Obama was vacationing, which was supposed to help cement Malaysia’s growing role on a global stage.

The transaction in the Chanel store was paid for with a Visa card in Mr. Najib’s name, according to the Malaysian investigation documents. At first the transaction didn’t go through and Mr. Najib, who was present, had to call his bank to approve the charge, said one of the people aware of the shopping trip.

A spokeswoman for Chanel declined to comment, citing customer privacy.

The credit card was paid for by an account in Mr. Najib’s name, the documents show. That account had been credited with $9 million a few months earlier. The money came from SRC International, the former unit of 1MDB that is now part of the finance ministry, according to documents that form part of an investigation into 1MDB by Malaysia’s anticorruption body.

On the day Mr. Najib played golf with Mr. Obama, SRC International transferred a further $9 million to the account via 1MDB’s corporate social responsibility arm. The money arrived the day after Christmas.

…more
1MDB Probe Shows Malaysian Leader Najib Spent Millions on Luxury Goods
March 30 – WSJ

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30
Mar
16

Corruption Allegations Continue to Build Against Malaysia’s Prime Minister – Time

Corruption Allegations Continue to Build Against Malaysia’s Prime Minister

Najib Razak is accused of siphoning more than a billion dollars from a struggling state fund

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak continues to dismiss allegations that he embezzled funds from a struggling state development fund, even after new evidence reportedly links upwards of a billion dollars in deposits from the fund into his personal accounts.

Najib has been the subject of unprecedented controversy since last July, when the Wall Street Journal and investigative news website Sarawak Report published documents tracing nearly $700 million from the ledgers of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to Najib’s private bank accounts. On Monday, the Journal reported that antigraft investigators believed the sum in Najib’s accounts was in fact higher than initially stated — totaling more than $1 billion.

Najib’s office released a statement in response to the article, condemning the Journal as a “willing vehicle for certain political actors who are seeking to damage the Prime Minister and Malaysia for personal gain,” but not commenting directly on the matter of the finances.

The accusations of further impropriety come just over a month after Malaysia’s Attorney General announced that an internal investigation into 1MDB had cleared Najib of any wrongdoing, concluding that the hundreds of millions of dollars in the Prime Minister’s accounts were not from 1MDB — which Najib launched as a pet project in 2009, and which has consistently reported debts — but instead campaign donations from the Saudi royal family. Meanwhile, a series of overseas investigations into the Malaysian money trail, including one initiated by the F.B.I., are still pending.

The recent allegations have reignited popular hostility towards Najib in Malaysia, where in late August hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demand his resignation. On Wednesday, a faction of student activists from across the Southeast Asian nation released a statement condemning the Prime Minister, whose actions, they wrote, “have jeopardized and will sacrifice the future of Malaysia.” Myriad political figures, including former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, have joined in this chorus.

Wong Chen, a Malaysian parliamentarian who belongs to the country’s growing opposition coalition, said that Najib’s refusal to specifically disprove the allegations against him could be interpreted as a tacit admission of guilt.

…more
Corruption Allegations Continue to Build Against Malaysia’s Prime Minister
Nash Jenkins
3 Mar 2016 – Time

30
Mar
16

A world of difference between two bungalows

29
Mar
16

Malaysia’s US$1 billion question – Jakarta Post

Malaysia’s US$1 billion question – Jakarta Post

In a desperate attempt to unseat his former “golden boy” Datuk Seri Najib Razak from the premiership, former Malaysian leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced his resignation from the ruling Umno on Monday.

His move, however, will hardly impact Najib, because Dr Mahathir cannot deny that he was also, at least partly, responsible for the current political landscape. The resignation looks more like personal revenge against Najib because of his failure to abide by his former mentor’s instructions.

There are growing protests from civil society groups against alleged power abuses and rampant corrupt practices involving political elites and the ruling coalition government.

But the opposition is divided and even hostile within itself, while the government silences the disgruntled groups using the tactics of wealth and power distribution.

The Wall Street Journal dropped another political bombshell on Malaysia when it reported on Monday that Najib has US$1 billion in his bank accounts, US$319 million more than what the newspaper allegedly found in July last year.

By any standard, such a significant graft allegation is ridiculous and will damage the pride of Malaysia as a nation if the truth is not thoroughly disclosed to sceptical Malaysians.

Reuters quoted the paper as citing two unnamed people familiar with flows into Najib’s accounts and a person familiar with one overseas investigation, who said that more than US$1 billion was deposited from 2011 to 2013, far more than the US$681 million earlier identified.

The paper said global investigators believe much of the US$1 billion originated from the state fund known as 1MDB, but did not specify where the extra money came from or what happened to it. The government insisted last year that the money was a donation from the Saudi royal family and had been returned.

So far, Najib is still able to tame the protests and opposition because although many Malays, the country’s first-class citizens according to the constitution, are frustrated by the political situation, they are facing greater threats domestically from ethnic Chinese and Indians.

For Indonesians, who have embraced democracy since 1998, the way Najib explained the source of the money seemed unacceptable. It is hard for them to understand Malaysia’s situation, too.

…more
Malaysia’s US$1 billion question – Jakarta Post
3 March 2016 – TMI

29
Mar
16

Bloomberg – Najib Critics Roll Out ‘Save Malaysia’ Campaign Against Premier

Najib Critics Roll Out ‘Save Malaysia’ Campaign Against Premier

Malaysian opposition politicians and leading critics of Prime Minister Najib Razak unveiled a fresh campaign aimed at ousting him, after months of attacks over a funding scandal failed to substantially dent his support.

Former premier Mahathir Mohamad and ex-deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin were among those who addressed more than 2,000 people at a convention center in the capital Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, with each of the 18 speakers conveying the same message: Najib must go now.

“The wait for two years for the next general elections is too long,” Mahathir said. “Our situation is very bad. We need to recover quickly and two years will be too late.”

Najib is facing his biggest political crisis since coming to power seven years ago as questions linger over $681 million which appeared in his accounts before the last election in 2013, funds the attorney-general said were a donation from the Saudi royal family. Mahathir, the country’s longest serving leader who governed until 2003, has waged a public campaign for months to get Najib out of office.
Mahathir Feud

From now until early June, Mahathir and Muhyiddin will drive the ‘Save Malaysia’ effort that will collect signatures from ordinary voters in various cities calling for Najib to step down, said Khairuddin Abu Hassan, a former official of the ruling United Malays National Organisation. Mahathir said he’s expecting a million signatories to the anti-Najib petition by the end of 2016.

Their feud has grown increasingly acrimonious, with Mahathir attacking Najib over a series of financial scandals and his economic record, and quitting the ruling party. While his influence has faded in recent years, the public sparring creates risk for UMNO, which has ruled since independence in 1957 but whose broader Barisan Nasional coalition won the last election in 2013 with its slimmest margin yet. The next election must be held by 2018.
Corruption Struggle

“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Razak, Malaysia is struggling with corruption and money scandals to an extent so serious that we have never faced before,” former law minister Zaid Ibrahim said at the rally. “We are ashamed of what is happening to the country now. We cannot be patient anymore.”

Najib has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said no “individual, however eminent” should try to interfere with or hijack his leadership. He retains the backing of the bulk of UMNO’s powerful divisional chiefs.

“This is the beginning of a long journey,” said Muhyiddin, who was suspended as UMNO deputy president for undermining the organization in his quest to remove Najib. “Our aim is for Najib to step down and not to topple the government. If we keep quiet and do nothing, they will say ‘look, no one is standing up against us,’” he said of those backing the prime minister.
Joining Hands

The effort to get Najib out of office has turned sworn political enemies into temporary allies. The government said this month that Mahathir’s move to align with opposition members showed the depth of “political opportunism and desperation.” Jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, a one-time deputy to Mahathir who was fired after a dispute over economic policies in 1998, is among those backing his former mentor.

Former UMNO leaders, who are “conspiring with the opposition,” do not respect democracy and the mandate given by the people, the official news agency Bernama reported Sunday, citing Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Azalina Othman.

Kamaruzaman Ismail, 63, was detained under the Internal Security Act when Mahathir was premier. He was among those at Sunday’s rally pledging support for Mahathir’s current efforts.

“What Mahathir did to me was personal,” said Kamaruzaman, an official with opposition group Parti Amanah Negara. “Why I am here today is for the country and the people. I will support this cause for the betterment of this country.”
Poorer Ranking

Malaysia’s score worsened in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index for 2015 released in January, putting it on a ranking near Slovakia, Kuwait and Cuba. Issues related to troubled state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd. contributed to the nation’s fall on the global list to 54th from 50th in 2014, according to the Malaysian head of Transparency International.

“We have to continue with reformation, we have to overcome corruption,” said Ambiga Sreenevasan, one of the nation’s best known civil society group leaders and who met U.S. President Barack Obama when he was in Malaysia last year. “It is time to say ‘no’ to leaders who act as though Malaysia belongs to only them. We don’t want a dictatorship.”

…more
Najib Critics Roll Out ‘Save Malaysia’ Campaign Against Premier
March 27, 2016 — Bloomberg

28
Mar
16

LFL: The IGP should do the honourable thing and resign after Aminulrasyid’s verdict

The IGP should do the honourable thing and resign after Aminulrasyid’s verdict

Lawyers for Liberty welcomes the High Court verdict yesterday in the civil suit by the family members of Aminulrasyid Amzah, who was shot dead by the police on 26 April 2010, when he was just 14 years old. The court allowed claims of pain and suffering, aggravated and exemplary damages for the wrongful shooting and killing of the deceased by Corporal Jenain Subi. The court further allowed a claim for the tort of public misfeasance against the current IGP Khalid Abu Bakar, who was then the Selangor Police Chief for giving false/ reckless information on the incident to the media.

The High Court’s finding against Khalid Abu Bakar is extremely troubling as this is the second time he had been found liable for the tort of public misfeasance, the other case being the death in custody of A.Kugan in 2009, where he had made similar false/ reckless remarks to the press in order to cover up the wrongful conduct of police personnel.

Khalid Abu Bakar had in a press conference on the next day after the fatal shooting of Aminulrasyid, attempted to justify the incident when he informed the media that the deceased had reversed his car into several policemen thus leaving them no choice but to open fire. He further said the police found a parang in the car of the deceased, leading the police to believe that the occupants were armed robbers. These remarks were widely published in the press and were not disputed in court. The court, after weighing all the evidence, found these allegations by Khalid Abu Bakar to be unfounded and he never testified despite being called to do so.

The court found Corporal Jenain Subi had acted in disregard of police procedures, the Inspector General Standing Orders (IGSO) when he discharged his sub-machine gun recklessly in a volley of 21 shots in succession at the deceased’s car when it was clear that the car did not pose any threat to the public or the police officers in their patrol cars at the time.

It is therefore clear that the information given by Khalid Abu Bakar to the press was without basis, a blatant attempt to cover up or justify the wrongful fatal shooting of Aminulrasyid. A case for further investigations can certainly be made out for offences under Chapter XI of the Penal Code for False Evidence and Offences Against Public Justice and the police department’s internal disciplinary procedure.

The court findings against Khalid Abu Bakar in A. Kugan’s case (affirmed in the Court of Appeal) and now Aminulrasyid are extremely serious as it essentially meant that he had intentionally or recklessly abused his position as a public officer and caused harm against the deceased persons. Needless to say, as the top police officer in the country, he is setting an extremely bad example to the rest of the police force by his intentional or reckless misbehaviour in covering up the most serious form of police misconduct i.e. fatal police shooting and death in custody.

Due to the double court findings of public misfeasance against Khalid Abu Bakar and the irresponsible manner in which he had carried out his duties as a senior ranking police officer, we therefore call for the immediate resignation of Khalid Abu Bakar as the Inspector General of Police.

…more
LFL: The IGP should do the honourable thing and resign after Aminulrasyid’s verdict
25 March 2016 – LFL Press Statement

27
Mar
16

WSJ: More than $1 billion was transferred into Najib’s accounts

WSJ: More than $1 billion was transferred into Najib’s accounts

The paper said global investigators believe much of the $1 billion originated with the state fund, known as 1MDB, but did not specify where the extra money came from or what happened to it.

KUALA LUMPUR: Deposits into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s bank accounts ran to hundreds of millions of dollars more than previously identified by probes into state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Citing two unnamed people familiar with flows into Najib’s accounts and a person familiar with one overseas investigation, the report said that more than $1 billion was deposited from 2011 to 2013, far more than the $681 million earlier identified.

The paper said global investigators believe much of the $1 billion originated with the state fund, known as 1MDB, but did not specify where the extra money came from or what happened to it.

The report contradicts a conclusion reached recently by Malaysia’s chief law officer.

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared Najib in January of any corruption or criminal offences, saying the $681 million transferred into Najib’s account was a gift from a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and that most of it was returned.

The prime minister’s office had no immediate comment, a spokesman said when contacted by Reuters.

Najib has been buffeted for months by allegations of graft and financial mismanagement at debt-burdened 1MDB and in particular by revelations of the transfer of around $681 million into his account in 2013.

He has denied wrongdoing, saying the funds were a legal political donation and he did not take any money for personal gain.

The Wall Street Journal report said money beyond the $681 million arrived in Najib’s account in 2011 and 2012.

It said investigators in two countries believed funds originated from 1MDB and moved through a complex web of transactions. Najib is chairman of the board of advisors to 1MDB, a fund set up in 2009, when he came to office, to invest in projects of national importance.

1MDB has said that it has not paid any funds into the personal accounts of the prime minister. A spokesperson for 1MDB declined to comment on the latest report when contacted by Reuters.

Probes into the fund’s finances have been opened in Malaysia, the United States, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Abu Dhabi, the Wall Street Journal said.

– Reuters

…more
WSJ: More than $1 billion was transferred into Najib’s accounts
March 1, 2016 – FMT




Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?

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