22
Jun
17

DOJ suit: Ministers must stop treating M’sians as brainless

DOJ suit: Ministers must stop treating M’sians as brainless

COMMENT | Over the past six days, so much has been said and so much has been written, and reported, on the latest filing by the Department of Justice (DoJ) of the United States. Opinions on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) – some unsolicited and others prompted – have clouded the space and airtime in both the print and electronic media.

So many people have said so many things – some bird-brained theories, some wayward questions and many incomprehensible statements. But above all, Malaysians can take consolation that they were a handful of intelligent analysis and positive examination of the issues.

However, the statements of two ministers leave the intrepid reader, listener, and viewer wondering: “what is going on?” At least two newspapers reported their response without telling readers what they were talking about.

It was akin to telling people “don’t listen to the lies perpetrated by Nadeswaran” without telling them what were the lies I had concocted or spread. But reading all sides of the story, there is this inherent duty as a journalist to explain why certain things are done in certain ways without resorting to lies as avowed by certain parties.

Let’s examine their assertions: Communications and Multimedia minister Salleh Said Keruak argued that the pronouncement by the DoJ is a form of interference, as their claim is not confirmed to the subject matter: which is about an alleged crime committed on US soil.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Abdul Rahman Dahlan demanded to know the names of the complainants which led to the DoJ’s investigations.

To put the matter in the right context, let us look at each of these assertions.
“A large part of the DOJ statement talks about what is happening internally in Malaysia, and an even larger part has no relevance to the subject of whether a crime has been committed on US soil as alleged,” Salleh said in a statement.

But what he does not understand is that the filings are part of its civil forfeiture action to seize assets it claims were bought using funds siphoned from 1MDB. No one is accusing the recipients of any wrongdoing although they may or may not have known the source of funds.

The more pertinent point is that foreign banks, in this case, US financial institutions, were used to launder the money stolen from 1MDB. But Salleh must agree that what is good for the goose must also be good for the gander.

When Singapore carried out discreet investigations over two years and acted against individuals and investigations into the laundering of money from 1MDB accounts, there was hardly a whimper. Some of the money was traced to 1MDB and other companies in which Malaysians were in control.

What was at stake was not where the money came from. It could have come from Timbuktu or from personal coffers of Mugabe or 1MDB. Did anyone ask the Monetary Authority of Singapore to identify the complainants?

It acted on its own volition and what mattered most was the island republic’s reputation as an international financial hub. It acted to penalise those who had acted to use its systems and instruments to launder money.

At the end of it all, it slapped S$29.1 (about RM100 million) in penalties on eight wayward banks and convicted five bankers. Three of the five have been banned for life or a minimum of 15 years from Singapore’s securities while another was banned for 10 years. Three more face bans from three to six years.

Singapore authorities, according to the Straits Times, stressed the scale of the probe had been unprecedented, spanning hundreds of thousands of transactions involving many shell firms and people operating in the US, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, and Malaysia.

Every sovereign nation has a right to defend itself and its institutions from being used for illegal activities, especially money laundering. The US and jurisdictions in other countries are just doing that or have done that.

…more
DOJ suit: Ministers must stop treating M’sians as brainless
R Nadeswaran
19 June 2017

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