Malaysia’s 1MDB in university hard sell – They think students can be so easily deceived?

Malaysia’s 1MDB in university hard sell

An investigation by US authorities into the alleged theft of billions of dollars from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund 1MDB was in part fuelled by Attorney-General Loretta Lynch’s desire to divert attention from Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, according to materials distributed in private lectures given by the company’s chief executive Arul Kanda in Australia last week.

The glossy 20-page booklet claims the US Department of Justice investigation, which has so far resulted in the freezing of more than $US1 billion ($1.34bn) in ­assets allegedly removed from 1MDB, is “questionable, strange and bizarre” and threatens the stability of Malaysia.

When it was set up in 2009, 1MDB was touted as a development bank that would invest billions of dollars into energy, real estate and hospitality, but the DoJ alleges the pillaging of the fund began within months of its creation.

Under increasing pressure from the series of international investigations, 1MDB and the ­Malaysian Special Affairs Department, JASA, have been secretly shoring up support among backers of the country’s ruling party in a series of closed-door lectures at Australian universities.

The tour followed an apparent pivot towards China by Malaysia, a long-time US ally, with Prime Minister Najib Razak visiting Beijing a fortnight ago to sign a 55 billion ringgit ($17bn) railway construction contract with the state-owned China Communications Construction Company.

CCCC, which owns Australian contractor John Holland, has previously denied reports the railway deal was inflated to conceal 1MDB’s financial black hole.

Accompanied by JASA officials, 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda last week appeared at three Australian campuses — in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane — where the pamphlet, entitled “DoJ’s summons is questionable”, was distributed.

When confronted by The Australian at the University of NSW about the alleged corruption, including the funnelling of hundreds of millions of dollars into the personal bank account of Mr Razak, Mr Kanda refused to answer questions and was quickly ushered into a waiting car.

Mr Kanda did not meet with any Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade officials while in Australia, nor anyone at the Australian Securities & Investments Commission or at ANZ, which owns a quarter of AmBank, the Malaysian bank where Mr Najib held the account that allegedly received the money.

ANZ last week attempted to distance itself from the scandal engulfing its Malaysian affiliate. The bank’s chief executive, Shayne Elliott, who was on the AmBank board until October last year, told a parliamentary inquiry the bank had not investigated activities of ANZ employees seconded into senior AmBank ranks at the time.

Responding in writing to questions after the hearing, Mr Elliott also declined to comment on his knowledge of an internal investigation into the vast flow of money through Mr Najib’s account, or discussions of the issue while he was on the AmBank board, citing “confidentiality requirements under Malaysian law”.

The contents of Mr Kanda’s presentation on Australian campuses is unknown, with The Australian ejected from the lecture shortly after it began.

Malaysia’s 1MDB in university hard sell
November 15, 2016 – The Australian


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