Archive for the 'Financial' Category

20
Apr
18

Land deal: Defence Ministry’s ‘explanation’ raises more questions

Land deal: Defence Ministry’s ‘explanation’ raises more questions

The Defence Ministry’s revelation that it was involved in land swap deals with private companies raises more questions, the NGO of former military servicemen, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot), said.

The movement’s leader, Brig-Gen (Rtd) Mohamed Arshad Raji, said caretaker Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak could bring clarity to the matter by answering four questions:

1. What is the name of the company appointed to execute the Ministry of Defence development projects and also the land swap privatisation projects?;

2. Who are the owners of that company?;

3. How do members of the Armed Forces, those uniformed men and women, and the Armed Forces benefit from such land swap privatisation projects?; and

4. Why are deals made in this land swap privatisation projects shrouded in secrecy?

Mohamed Arshad said Patriot was “disgusted” that yet another scandal, this time involving land swap deals, was shrouded in secrecy and demanded transparency.

Yesterday, the Defence Ministry dismissed allegations by former cabinet minister Rafidah Aziz (photo) that all Armed Forces land in the country was now in control by a company owned by three individuals.

Rafidah had claimed that Najib, as defence minister, had tabled a cabinet paper on this in 2007. According to Rafidah, she was the only minister to question the deal.

On Saturday, Rafidah had urged Najib to name the so-called company controlled by three individuals.

However, the Defence Ministry said any land deal involving the ministry undergoes a rigorous process of vetting and procedures are set by the Public Private Partnership Unit (Ukas).

“Every project involves different companies which do not have anything to do with one another.

“Every privatisation project which uses the land-swap deal method has to be discussed in detail by a ministerial committee and by a Ukas committee before it can be brought before the cabinet for approval in principle,” the ministry said.

“Once this approval in principle is given, the project proposal then has to be brought once again before the Ukas committee chaired by its director-general. It also has to be brought before the Public-Private Committee chaired by the chief secretary to the government.

“There are several stages which any proposal needs to go through before it can be brought before the cabinet once again for every detail to be examined.”

The Defence Ministry did not name any of the companies involved in these projects.

…more
Land deal: Defence Ministry’s ‘explanation’ raises more questions
11 april 2018 – malaysiakini

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17
Apr
18

Do the majority of us have enough money to live comfortably?

Do most of us have a living wage?

A QUESTION OF BUSINESS | Yes, we have almost eliminated poverty in Malaysia, but do the majority of us have enough money to live comfortably and play our role in society?

Government officials are fond of blithely saying that we have achieved much over the years because the incidence of poverty has fallen from 49.3% in 1970 to a mere 0.4% now. But that statement is rendered meaningless when what is defined as poor is revealed.

I had trouble finding what the poverty line for Malaysia is – no one seemed to really care what that was despite quoting widely the latest poverty rate which indicated that poverty had been virtually wiped out in Malaysia. Eventually, I found one from the Economic Transformation Programme website.

This defines the poor as people who “fall short of certain standards of consumption which are deemed necessary to maintain ‘decency’ in society, for example, those who cannot afford healthcare and education. Households with average monthly incomes of less than RM760 in Peninsular Malaysia, less than RM1,050 in Sabah and less than RM910 in Sarawak are defined as poor.” Let’s just round that off to a nice easy cut-off figure – RM800 per month in household income.

Now, I ask you, if a household earned RM801, would it no longer be poor? Certainly not. If the average household is considered to be four people is RM200 per person enough? With that, you have to provide food, shelter clothing, health costs, education, etc. By my reckoning, a household can be earning RM800 and still be extremely poor.

When we are talking about poverty levels, we are talking about subsistence. It would be more accurate to say, in the common usage of language that hardly anybody in Malaysia starves these days, not that they are not poor. We can’t even say that there is no malnutrition among many. Such statistics are simply and conveniently unavailable.

The question to ask these days is whether we have a living wage – enough income for us to have a meaningful life free from need and not whether we are above the poverty line – it really does not take much for a resource-rich country like Malaysia to eliminate poverty the way it is defined.

Unable to make ends meet

But is there a living wage for a vast majority of Malaysians? Unfortunately not as a study by the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), shows. This is a timely study, contained in BNM’s latest annual report, which indicates how, despite good economic growth, many people have to struggle to make ends meet.

The study talks about a living wage which centres around the concept of a ‘minimum acceptable’ standard of living which goes beyond being able to afford the necessities, such as food, clothing, and shelter.

“This standard of living should include the ability to meaningfully participate in society, the opportunity for personal and family development, and freedom from severe financial stress. At the same time, it should reflect needs, not wants. It does not capture the cost of lifestyle, which is the spending to fulfil the desires for an aspirational living standard.”

The study estimated a living wage for various categories of people in Kuala Lumpur by using a basket of goods and services, and deriving the costs of these (see table).

The table shows that in 2016 for a single working adult in Kuala Lumpur, who rents a room, eats out more often than cooks, drives less and uses more public transport, the minimum living wage is RM2,700 a month; a household income of RM4,500 a month for a couple without children; and RM6,500 a month for a couple with two children.

This bears out what many have suspected all along – that the poverty line income is irrelevant and that most people require a living wage which is far in excess of that. The RM6,500 minimum living wage for Kuala Lumpur is just over eight times the poverty line income for Malaysia! Even a graduate who on employment gets about RM2,400 a month in Kuala Lumpur, gets a living wage below the minimum level.

According to the Statistics Department, the median household income (half of the households earn less than this) for Kuala Lumpur in 2016 was RM9,073 compared to the RM6,500 minimum living wage for KL calculated by the study.

That would indicate that a significant number of households live below this threshold. The BNM study indicated that up to 27% of KL households could be living below the minimum living wage level. It would be interesting to see the figures for the whole country as Kuala Lumpur is far more highly developed than the rest. Note also that the RM6,500 is higher than the Malaysian median household income of RM5,228 a month.

Low-wage policies

Clearly, any improvement in wage levels has to be accompanied by productivity improvements but this has been hampered by an adoption of low-wage economic policies exemplified by large imports of cheap labour as I pointed out in this article.

In the same annual report, BNM presents another study which indicates that a low-wage policy led to depressed wages and inhibited productivity improvements badly needed to support higher wages.

“Currently, while Malaysia has made progress on several fronts, there remains a broad reliance on low-cost production models that lean on low-skilled labour while keeping a lid on wages to maintain business margins. The relative ease of obtaining low-skilled foreign workers in Malaysia contributes to these tendencies,” it said.

“A prerequisite to achieving a high income and (becoming a) developed nation is the progression to a ‘high-productivity, high-income’ workforce. Fundamentally, Malaysia would benefit from a clear shift away from an economy that is input-based and dependent on cost suppression as a source of competitive strength, to one that competes on the quality of its labour force, technical skills and product offerings.

“Such a shift requires the implementation of well-aligned, coordinated and consistent public policies. These policies encompass talent development, research and development, and industrial upgrading initiatives. Importantly, these policies need to be coherent, well-communicated and mutually-reinforcing.”

Both studies indicate that if there is going to be further meaningful development in Malaysia, which includes as well a broad-based improvement in the living standards of most of the people, there needs to be major shift in policy-making and implementation by the government at all levels in furtherance of a competitive, competent economy based on high quality education and training.

Sadly, there is no indication that the current government is equipped, willing or able to make the necessary changes.

…more
Do most of us have a living wage?
5 April 2018 – malaysiakini

16
Apr
18

1MDB-Linked Yacht Won’t Be Setting Sail Soon

1MDB-Linked Yacht Won’t Be Setting Sail Soon

JAKARTA, Indonesia—A potentially prolonged custody battle is unfolding over a $250 million yacht allegedly connected to the 1MDB global scandal, with lawyers moving on multiple fronts to block the U.S. from seizing the boat.

The moves could upend a U.S. win against a Malaysian financier the Justice Department alleges is a central player in a $4.5 billion scandal that has spawned investigations in several nations.

Last month, Indonesian police seized the 300-foot Equanimity, acting on the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who had sought the vessel for months. The U.S. has asserted in court filings that U.S. laws were broken in the larger 1MDB case, and that gives it rights to seize assets.The Justice Department had hoped to quickly transport the boat to the U.S. to sell, but a legal challenge to invalidate the seizure has been launched by Indonesian lawyers representing a claimant to the Equanimity in the Indonesian court system.

On Wednesday, a Jakarta court spokesman said hearings in the case would begin April 9, with a decision expected by mid-month. Legal experts said that either party losing the decision would likely take further legal actions.

The Justice Department alleges that 36-year-old Jho Low, the financier, helped siphon off at least $4.5 billion from Malaysian state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. between 2009 and 2015. Since mid-2016, the U.S. has sought, via civil lawsuits in California, to seize almost $2 billion in assets allegedly bought with the stolen money, including the Equanimity, a Bombardier jet, mansions and royalties from the film “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

The Equanimity had eluded U.S. authorities until February, when it sailed to waters off Bali, Indonesia.

Separately, in U.S. federal court records filed Monday in California, lawyers representing companies claiming the Equanimity argued that U.S. government plans to take control of the boat using a reduced crew and then quickly sail it to the U.S. to sell it were “ill-conceived” and threatened the value of the boat.

They asked the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to allow the Equanimity to remain in Indonesia for at least 30 days and preclude the U.S. government from taking actions against it. The U.S. “directed a theatrical ‘seizure’’’ of the Equanimity which “was carried out in breach of Indonesian law,” lawyers said in the filing.

The Equanimity’s lawyers didn’t mention Mr. Low by name. The Justice Department says Mr. Low, also known as Low Taek Jho, purchased the boat in 2014.

In its own filings Monday, the Justice Department asked the California court to appoint the U.S. government custodian of the boat, arguing that claimants to the Equanimity have gone to “extraordinary lengths” to keep the boat out of the U.S. government’s reach.

They contend that Mr. Low instructed the crew to turn off the vessel’s automatic identification system “as soon as news broke” about the civil forfeiture case in the U.S. last year. Lawyers for the Equanimity said in their filing that the boat’s “long-range identification and tracking system” was never turned off, and that the separate AIS is sometimes turned off based on “warnings regarding potential hijackings and kidnappings.” The Justice Department said in its filing that the Equanimity was not in a high-risk territory when it allegedly turned off its AIS after news broke of the forfeiture case.

The Justice Department’s filings also say that Mr. Low, communicating via the messaging app WeChat , told crew to avoid sailing in U.S. territorial waters as well as those of Singapore and Australia, two key U.S. allies, and instead stick to jurisdictions such as Vietnam and Cambodia. The Equanimity’s filings do not address the issue.

…more
1MDB-Linked Yacht Won’t Be Setting Sail Soon
March 28, 2018 – WSJ

15
Apr
18

Multibillion dollar 1MDB heist

Multibillion dollar 1MDB heist: THE DOJ LAWSUIT REVISITED

The seizure of The Equanimity luxury yacht in Bali, Indonesia, in late February this year, has once again brought the civil forfeiture suits by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) into the spotlight.

The DOJ had filed a series of the forfeiture suits in 2016 and 2017, seeking to seize assets worth nearly US$1.7 billion allegedly acquired using money siphoned off from the Malaysian fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

According to the DOJ, 1MDB officials and their associates had embezzled US$4.5 billion between 2009 and 2014, which was allegedly laundered through the global financial systems including the US. It is the most extensive action brought under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. The department said that the money was used for personal gain.

They include purchasing luxury properties, artworks, a private jet, jewellery, funding movie production company which produced movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street”. The Equanimity, which is said to belong to Malaysian businessperson Jho Low, was one of the assets on the list.

Jho Low, whose full name is Low Taek Jho, was portrayed as the mastermind of the money laundering scheme in the DOJ lawsuit. Several other persons were named in the lawsuits, including Jho Low’s friend Riza Aziz, who is also the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, several 1MDB officers, and an unnamed “Malaysian Official 1”, who was said to be Najib himself.

Several celebrities, including Hollywood actor Leonardo Dicaprio and model Miranda Kerr were dragged into the matter.

The lawsuits had categorised the money-laundering processes over the five-year period into four phases, namely the “Good Star phase”, “Aabar BVI phase”, “Tanore phase” and “Options Buyback phase”.

The lawsuits consist several hundred pages long and provide a blow-by-blow account of the complex series of transaction. This article will break down the complexities of the suits and walk readers through the money trail.

…more
Multibillion dollar 1MDB heist:
THE DOJ LAWSUIT REVISITED
31 March 2018 – malaysiakini

13
Apr
18

Jho Low bought Equanimity with 1MDB funds – DOJ says it, again

Jho Low bought Equanimity with 1MDB funds – DOJ says it, again

The US Department of Justice has again reiterated that Malaysian national Low Taek Jho bought the US$250 million megayacht the Equanimity with funds allegedly “stolen and embezzled” from 1MDB.

“Indeed, as alleged throughout the complaint (by the DOJ), Low was a central player in orchestrating the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB,” said the DOJ in a court filing yesterday, as sighted by Malaysiakini.

This was part of the DOJ’s request to the US District Courts for the Central District of California for an order to appoint the US government as the custodian of the Equanimity.

The DOJ also sought an order for Low’s representatives to tender megayacht into the government’s custody in order for the vessel to be brought to the US for forfeiture purposes.

In the filing, the DOJ alleged that Low engaged in a “game of keep-away” upon knowing that the department sought to seize the Equanimity, by instructing the ship’s crew to turn off the Automatic Identification
System (AIS) and avoid the US and close US allies Australia and Singapore.

“The Equanimity’s captain was told to instead stick to other jurisdictions, like Vietnam and Cambodia, where the Equanimity was deemed ‘safe’.

“Low’s directives were apparently complied with,” said the DOJ.

Miscalculation

The DOJ said that Low’s agents had gone to “extraordinary lengths” to keep the yacht outside the hands of the US government.

“They have turned off the Equanimity’s AIS to make the yacht harder to detect. They have structured the Equanimity’s travels to avoid any jurisdictions where the Equanimity was likely to be seized.

“When they miscalculated in Indonesia and saw the yacht seized, they filed suit to resist the seizure and prevent Indonesia from surrendering the yacht to the government.

“And even when they have engaged with the government about a possible interlocutory sale of the yacht, they insisted that the yacht not be brought into the United States,” said the DOJ in the document sighted by Malaysiakini.

These machinations by Low’s agents, added the DOJ, had obstructed the warrant to seize the Equanimity, which will only have full effect when the ship is brought to US territory.

In arguing for an order to appoint the government the custodian of the Equanimity, the DOJ argued that Low’s agents “might not be trusted” to bring the yacht to the US on their own.

“After all, they have already obstructed the court’s arrest warrant (against the Equanimity) in rem. It is hardly far-fetched to think that they might also obstruct or defy an order to sail the yacht to the United States,” he said.

Previously, Multimedia and Communication Minister Salleh Said Keruak had claimed that there was “no tangible proof” that Low was the owner of the Equanimity, following the seizure of the vessel last month.

Last night, Salleh told a gathering of foreign correspondents that US DOJ filings on 1MDB won’t be considered “fake news”.

“You can quote them, what did they say, based on the filings. It is not considered fake news. It’s their views. Like DOJ, you quote them, what they said,” he said.

…more
Jho Low bought Equanimity with 1MDB funds – DOJ says it, again
27 March 2018 – malaysiakini

11
Apr
18

Jho Low balks at US plan to move seized yacht

Jho Low balks at US plan to move seized yacht

Lawyers for Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho say the US government does not know how to maintain or market a yacht like the Equanimity.

The Equanimity was seized by the Indonesian government in Bali last month.

LOS ANGELES: Low Taek Jho, the Malaysian financier accused by the US of orchestrating a scheme to siphon US$4.5 billion from a government fund, is balking at Justice Department (DoJ) plans to move his US$250 million yacht to the US from Indonesia.

“The government does not know how to properly maintain or market a luxury yacht as unique and distinctive as the M/Y ‘Equanimity’,” lawyers said in a request on Monday for an emergency order to keep it anchored in Bali.

The attorneys represent the trusts that are fighting the US forfeiture lawsuit for the seized 300-foot vessel.

“For instance, the government is contemplating reducing the number of crew members from more than 20 to just eight, a number so low that it would endanger the lives of the crew on board and wreak havoc on the condition of the yacht,” they said.

In addition, the DoJ wants to sell the yacht in the US, where the market for luxury yachts is “anaemic” through the end of the fall, according to the filing in federal court in Los Angeles, compared to Mediterranean locations such as Monaco or Barcelona.

There’s no evidence that a sale in the US would diminish the yacht’s value, the DoJ said in a court request to gain custody of the Equanimity. The government cited a 2017 Global Superyachts Market Analysis report in which North America held a 45% market share for the sale of “superyachts”.

In June, US prosecutors filed a second round of forfeiture lawsuits in their efforts to recover assets they claim were acquired with money stolen from 1MDB.

The claims included the yacht Low, commonly known as Jho Low, bought in 2014, as well as a US$1.29 million heart-shaped diamond and a US$3.8 million diamond pendant he gave that year to his then-girlfriend, actress Miranda Kerr.

Other assets linked to stolen 1MDB funds include real estate in London, New York and Beverly Hills, a stake in EMI Music Publishing and a US$35 million Bombardier Jet.

After the DoJ filed its forfeiture lawsuit against the yacht last year, Low instructed its crew to keep it away from countries such as Singapore and Australia, whose governments were likely to seize the vessel, and instead stick to “safe” places such as Cambodia and Vietnam, according to the US’ filing.

When the US learned last month that the yacht was moored off the island of Bali, it asked the Indonesian government to seize it and hand it over. The trusts that claim ownership of the yacht have filed a lawsuit in Indonesia challenging the seizure.

…more
Jho Low balks at US plan to move seized yacht
Bloomberg
March 28, 2018 – FMT

04
Apr
18

Pakatan’s GE win will stop Najib from destroying Malaysia, says Dr Mahathir

Pakatan’s GE win will stop Najib from destroying Malaysia, says Dr Mahathir

PRIME Minister Najib Razak will not be able to destroy the country if Pakatan Harapan (PH) were to win the 14th general election, said Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The Pakatan Harapan (PH) chairman said although it was difficult to unite the opposition to restore Malaysia after Barisan Nasional’s 60-year rule, it was the better choice rather than “letting Najib maintain his kleptocracy”.

“It is not easy for PH to restore the nation but when we rule, Najib will no longer be able to destroy the country,” said the former prime minister in his latest post on his blog chedet.cc.

“Some will think that PH cannot do anything to make things better.

“But the destruction of the nation will be worse if Najib can maintain his kleptocracy. The burden of debts will increase and the country’s states will be sold.”

Dr Mahathir, however, said his team was experienced in saving and restoring the economy, finance, and socio-politics of the nation.

“That we are certain. Reject the kleptocracy of Najib,” he said.

When Dr Mahathir was prime minister from 1981 to 2003, Malaysia had several times faced financial crisis. One is the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 which Dr Mahathir through his policies helped manoeuvre the country out of trouble.

Dr Mahathir also said since the nation’s independence, the good name of Malaysia had never been tarnished so badly like now with Najib as the prime minister.

“Yes, our country has been threatened before by the Internal Security Act (ISA). There has also been corruption in the government under the leadership of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak, Tun Hussein and also me.

“But these things had not made Malaysia to be called a nation of graft along with ten other countries in the world that has high levels of corruption – not to a point where the nation is declared a kleptocracy led by criminals, thieves,” he said.

According to Dr Mahathir, the prime minister of Malaysia is said to be “a corrupt leader who is involved in scandals involving billions of government funds, with his name mentioned in several money laundering cases involving 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).”

“The reports on newspapers and television globally clearly and openly reveal that the purchase of luxury homes in London, New York and Hollywood, the purchase of the jetliner, mega yacht, pieces of jewellery worth billions for the prime minister’s wife, gambling in Las Vegas, gifts worth millions to pretty ladies and all sorts of ways to clean the money stolen from the 1MDB fund,” he wrote. – March 27, 2018.

…more
Pakatan’s GE win will stop Najib from destroying Malaysia, says Dr Mahathir
27 Mar 2018 – TMI




What happened to 1MDB’s money? – CNBC Video
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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