Foreign governments pile pressure on Malaysia over financial scandals

Foreign governments pile pressure on Malaysia over financial scandals

Malaysia may have absolved its prime minister in a huge corruption scandal, but foreign authorities investigating suspicious global fund flows are making clear the affair is far from over and that the net may be tightening.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali last week cleared Datuk Seri Najib Razak of wrongdoing in accepting a mysterious US$681 million payment (RM2.6 billion) from overseas, sparking accusations of a cover-up in a case that has shaken Najib’s government to its core.

But within days, authorities in Switzerland and Singapore upped the pressure, pointedly responding that investigations into an array of Malaysian money movements were forging ahead and releasing new information.

The Swiss attorney-general’s office on Saturday revealed that it believed US$4 billion had been pilfered from Malaysian state companies, and on Monday Singapore announced it had seized a “large number of bank accounts” as part of investigations into a company closely linked to Najib, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Observers said the timing and tone of the Swiss and Singaporean statements appeared to indicate concern that Malaysia may seek to bury the issue.

“The Swiss and Singaporeans are obviously worried that (clearing Najib) looks detrimental to their ongoing investigations,” said Cynthia Gabriel, head of C4, a Malaysian anti-graft NGO.

“But this is definitely far from over and looks like the noose is tightening on Najib,” she added, referring to the new details announced by the Swiss and Singaporeans.

Malaysia has been rocked for more than a year by allegations that huge sums of money were diverted from 1MDB, an investment company, and the revelation last July of the US$681 million payment to Najib.

While he is not yet known to be directly implicated in any overseas investigation, Najib launched 1MDB and still chairs its advisory board.

He and 1MDB strongly deny the widely-held public suspicion that the US$681 million came from the now debt-strapped investment company.

Apandi last week called the payment a legal “personal donation” from the Saudi royal family. The explanation has been ridiculed in Malaysia as an implausible cover story.

Foreign governments pile pressure on Malaysia over financial scandals
2 February 2016 – TMI


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