Posts Tagged ‘1MDB Scandal

17
Jul
18

1MDB – The ‘great-grandmother of all scandals’ comes to China

The ‘great-grandmother of all scandals’ comes to China

There is a new twist in the multi-billion-dollar financial scandal surrounding the Malaysian investment fund 1MDB – possible Chinese involvement.

Malaysia’s new government – which took office only in May – has suspended three major construction projects with Chinese firms.

A senior ministry official told the BBC that it believes that two of the contracts, for pipelines, were used to launder money for Malaysia’s previous administration, led by the former Prime Minister, Najib Razak.

These allegations open a new front in the inquiries into 1MDB, which is already being investigated in the US, Switzerland and Singapore.

The finance ministry’s accusations also represent a sharp change in mood in Malaysia towards China since Mr Najib lost power.

The investigations into 1MDB are being led by Malaysia’s finance ministry, housed in a vast curved building in Putrajaya, a purpose-built town to the south of Kuala Lumpur that has been the country’s administrative capital for the past two decades.

Until the election in May, Tony Pua was an opposition MP who spent much of his time talking about 1MDB, which he calls “the great grandmother of all scandals”.

He made a series of scurrilous videos about the fund and its alleged connection to Mr Najib.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The 1 Malaysia Development Berhad development company is being investigated in Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland and the US

But now Mr Pua’s party is in government and he has been employed as a special officer to the finance minister to look through the mountains of documentation related to 1MDB.

Before his current job, he said he worked with “dribs and drabs” of information about 1MDB – but not any more. “Now, anything you ask for, the tap opens like a beer barrel,” he told the BBC in an interview at the ministry.

Mr Pua said the new administration had been astounded by what it had found, which has extended the scope of what was previously known about 1MDB, including links to Chinese firms.

Earlier this month (6 July), the ministry announced that it had suspended three big contracts with Chinese companies.

Two of those are pipeline schemes worth a combined total of $2.3bn (£1.7bn).

The ministry’s new leaders were staggered to discover that 88% of the contract cost had been paid to the Chinese company in charge, China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau – but only 13% of the work had been completed.

Mr Pua said building work had not even started; only consultancy studies had so far been completed.

“The entire project smelt like a scam. [There were] clearly elements of money laundering taking place,” he said.

“We were giving money out – to a Chinese company – and we suspect this money is being funnelled to parties related to the previous administration.”

He said the ministry believes the money was being used to cover debts linked to 1MDB, which he said now stand at more than $12bn.

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The ‘great-grandmother of all scandals’ comes to China
By Michael Bristow
17 July 2018 – BBC

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15
Jul
18

Malaysia Counts the Costs of Its 1MDB Scandal

Malaysia Counts the Costs of Its 1MDB Scandal

The new government’s pursuit of justice is just beginning.

The bills racked up during the decade under Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Najib Razak, now under arrest, continue to mount. Investigations into the colossal losses by the investment fund One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) are spreading, amid efforts by the new government headed by 93-year-old Mahathir Mohamad to hold Najib’s feet to the fire.

Justice for 1MDB is seen as a key ingredient in a recipe designed to put Malaysia back on track after a decade of greed and corruption at the highest levels under Najib, whose resounding defeat in May’s elections marked a turning point for democracy at home and perhaps across the region.

Though corruption allegations tied to 1MDB had long dogged Najib during his tenure as prime minister, his ouster paved the way for his potential prosecution under the new government. For Najib, the son of Malaysia’s second prime minister, his arrest marks a spectacular fall from grace less than two months after he was widely expected to win an election rigged in his favor.

Money, Death, and 1MDB

The 1MDB allegations swirling around Najib date back three years, when the Wall Street Journal first reported the story, with its missing $4.5 billion sparking worldwide investigations and reports that nearly $700 million had been transferred into Najib’s personal bank account.

He insists the money was a donation from a Saudi royal.

Allegations of corruption, which he denies, date back much further. But Najib ignored calls for his resignation, preferring to introduce “fake news” legislation to counter media attention from abroad, and at home by a few independent news outlets that were often overwhelmed by Najib’s friendly and always compliant gaggle of reporters and publishers. Despite his best efforts to tilt the playing field to his advantage, though, the United Malays National Organization (UMNO), which had effectively ruled since independence in 1957, went down in defeat at the polls.

“The arrest of Najib marks a new high point in the remarkably changed environment in Malaysia,” said Keith Loveard, a risk analyst with Jakarta-based Concord Securities.

The lives of ordinary Malaysians stood in stark contrast to the extravagances of Najib’s coterie, including first lady Rosmah Mansor who, like her husband, was barred from leaving the country following the elections.

Comparisons between Rosmah and former first lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos – notorious for her lavish displays of wealth that drew the ire of segments of the local population – were well-earned. And given the sheer scale of her personal wealth and business ties with the political elite, she too will be busy with the courts.

Police recently seized expensive jewelry, a collection of luxury handbags – among other goods – and cash valued at more than $225 million from six properties linked to her family.

Additionally, her role, if any, in the 2002 acquisition of two French Scorpene submarines for $1.1 billion when her husband was defense minister needs to be fleshed out. Allegations of back-handers have made been in the French courts.

Complicating that are the alleged sexual innuendo and aspersions cast by the 2006 killing of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibu, who acted as a translator. Her death cast a long shadow over the Najib years. Altantuya was rarely spoken about publicly, but in the fashionable coffee shops of Kuala Lumpur, her fate was the source of much gossip and outrage. While pregnant, she was taken to a forest, shot twice, tied to a tree, strapped with C4 explosives, and blown up.

Whether police also reopen investigations into the killing of Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Morais, who was investigating 1MDB, remains to be seen. He was killed in 2015 after he was kidnapped, and his body was later found in a cement-filled oil drum dumped in a river.

Gavin Greenwood, an analyst with Hong Kong-based Allan & Associates, said Mahathir was seeking to build multiple cases against Najib and his UMNO allies.

“Notable,” he said is “the reopening of the inquiry and likely trial or retrial of those alleged to be involved in the death of Altantuya Shaariibuu… this case is far more readily understandable to most people than the intricacies of the 1MDB scandal.”

“It may also suit Mahathir’s interests to ensure any legal action is as protracted as possible to ensure maximum coverage of the attendant allegations of corruption, fraud, and sexual impropriety,” he said.

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Malaysia Counts the Costs of Its 1MDB Scandal
By Luke Hunt
July 10, 2018 – thediplomat.com

13
Jul
18

The Global Hunt for Malaysia’s Stolen Billions

The Global Hunt for Malaysia’s Stolen Billions

International investigations of money laundering involving the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) investment fund will probably create shock waves through the parts of the global financial order that were complicit in its looting, and there were plenty, stretching from Singapore to Switzerland and beyond.

They are likely to result in the punishment of international banks and bankers and pressure various jurisdictions around the world to strengthen their anti-money laundering controls and laws. The US Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges US$4.5 billion was stolen from this Malaysian state fund, much of it laundered in jurisdictions like the US, UK, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Singapore.

The domestic probe of 1MDB by the newly-energized Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is nearly complete, and the MACC will shift its focus outside Malaysia, MACC Chief Commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull told reporters on July 7.

International collaboration on investigations of 1MDB has accelerated in recent days.

On July 10, the Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber met the Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas in Kuala Lumpur, said the Swiss Office of the Attorney General. The two officials discussed coordination on investigations of 1MDB. In contrast, when Najib Razak was Malaysian Prime Minister till his shock defeat in the Malaysian election on May 9, he forestalled cooperation on investigating 1MDB with the authorities of Switzerland and other countries.

Reuters reported on July 10 that Malaysian investigators of 1MDB plan to visit the Washington to meet US officials including those from the DOJ. The visit may happen before the end of July, the news agency said.

Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia head of Goldman Sachs, is negotiating with US prosecutors to potentially plead guilty to criminal charges related to 1MDB, the Wall Street Journal reported on July 9. Leissner is seeking an agreement with US prosecutors that would involve his cooperation with the US DOJ’s investigation into 1MDB and Goldman, the newspaper quoted unnamed sources saying.

Goldman raised US$6.5 billion in three sales of 1MDB bonds from 2012 to 2013. More than US$2.5 billion raised from these bonds was misappropriated by 1MDB officials, their relatives and associates, according to Just ice Department documents. The US bank has repeatedly maintained it is innocent, merely managing the bond sales with no involvement in what happened after that.

Part of the funds raised from these bonds flowed into bank accounts of “Malaysian Official 1,”, widely assumed to be Najib, according to document made public by the DOJ’s kleptocracy unit documents. Najib, who was chairman of 1MDB till May 2016, is scheduled to stand trial in Malaysia on four charges related to 1MDB withnin several months.

There is a high probability that the authorities of the US, Switzerland and other countries will punish some banks and bankers. So far there has been no major enforcement action by the US authorities in the 1MDB case. It is unrealistic to assume this will remain the case, because US prosecutors like to prove success by the conviction of suspects. In its July 10 press release, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General said it is investigating and conducting criminal proceedings against six people, namely two former 1MDB officials, two former officials of the United Arab Emirates and two executives of PetroSaudi International, a Saudi oil exploration and services company.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is scrutinizing new information emerging from Malaysia and elsewhere on the 1MDB scandal, MAS managing director Ravi Menon told Singapore media on July 4.

“And now after the (Malaysia) general election, with the Malaysians authorities stepping up their investigations, we’ve been in close contact,” said Menon. “We are still looking at certain individuals and there are others we are looking forward to interview. If there is any new evidence, we will relook at the banks again. So far, (that) hasn’t been the case.”

A staggering RMB100 billion (US$24.8 billion) of funds linked to Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, are stashed in bank accounts outside Malaysia, alleged an unnamed source quoted by Sarawak Report. Much of that money is in Hong Kong bank accounts and travelled through German and Swiss banks, alleged Sarawak Report, a London whistleblower website. Asia Sentinel was unable to verify Sarawak Report’s claims.

It is not known if any of this money is linked to 1MDB. However, if investigators from Malaysia and other countries uncover billions of dollars in Hong Kong bank accounts linked to Najib or Rosmah, it will worsen the perception of Hong Kong as a money laundering hub.

…more
The Global Hunt for Malaysia’s Stolen Billions
By: Toh Han Shih
July 12, 2018 – Asia Sentinel

10
Jul
18

What’s next for Malaysia’s disgraced former PM?

What’s next for Malaysia’s disgraced former PM?

THE arrest of Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, on Tuesday was widely expected. In fact, many Malaysians were hoping he would be arrested immediately after the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), was defeated in the May 9 election.

Najib was the main reason why UMNO lost – he was widely seen as corrupt and the main person behind the scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment fund.

US prosecutors have accused Najib of diverting US$731 million from 1MDB into his personal bank account. Many people assume Najib’s arrest is connected to this fund, but legally speaking, he faces charges relating to a company called SRC international, a one-time subsidiary of 1MDB.

SRC took a loan of about US$1 billion from a state-run retirement fund and Najib is alleged to have siphoned off about US$10.5 million from the top. The money allegedly ended up in his bank account, the same account that was implicated in the 1MDB affair.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing, and on Weddnesday pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Why was Najib not charged in the 1MDB probe? The simple answer is that the 1MDB investigation covers multiple jurisdictions. At the last count, money involved in the 1MDB affair is believed to have passed through the following financial systems: the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, among others.

It is simply not possible to put such a complex case together in such a short amount of time following the election of opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad two months ago.

The good news is that, under the new Mahathir administration, foreign governments will now have access to Malaysian documents related to the 1MDB probe. The US, Singapore and Switzerland are among the countries investigating the scandal. When Najib was in power, all financial institutions in Malaysia refused to cooperate with these foreign probes.

Why is SRC International different? The key factor here is a star witness, a former director of SRC International who decided to come forward to testify for the prosecution. This individual was too afraid to come forward when Najib was prime minister. That is no longer the case.

There are several key witnesses in the 1MDB scandal who may be thinking along the same lines as the former SRC director. With Najib no longer in control, some of these witnesses may now turn against him, as well.

Top of the list is Jho Low, the accused mastermind of the 1MDB scam. He is believed to be dividing his time between Macau and Taiwan, both places where extradition to Malaysia is not possible.

Another important witness under tremendous pressure to come forward is Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia chairman for Goldman Sachs, the bank that handled most of the 1MDB bond sales. He was pushed to resign from Goldman Sachs in February 2016, and both Singapore and US securities regulators have banned him from working again in the financial industry.

An interesting side note is that he is better known in the US as the husband of Kimora Lee Simmons, an American model and fashion designer and the former wife of hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.

What’s next in the Najib case? By charging Najib, the Mahathir administration is keeping an electoral promise to take action against the former leader. But more importantly, the new government is also sending a strong message to Malaysians and the international community that it is serious about cleaning up the mess left by Najib’s government, especially when it comes to corruption.

For Najib, this will likely be the first of many trials he will face, as more charges are expected in the 1MDB case. It’s also likely that Najib’s family members, including his wife, stepson and son-in-law will face charges, as they are alleged to be direct beneficiaries of the stolen funds.

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What’s next for Malaysia’s disgraced former PM?
By James Chin
6th July 2018 – Asian Correspondent

09
Jul
18

Najib’s arrest shows rule of law is alive and well

Najib’s arrest shows rule of law is alive and well

COMMENT | In the past, we have seen it bent, twisted, tainted, criticised, demonised, politicised, and undergo a gauntlet of trials. It survived and is intact. That it took time to stir into action in the arrest and charging of former PM Najib Abdul Razak is a good sign. The government had to get its facts right and prepare a watertight case. In such matters, patience in being thorough is a virtue.

PM Mahathir Mohamad has kept his word. After winning GE14, he said there will be no revenge against Najib but will let the rule of law take its course. And indeed, it will, seeing the eyes of the world will be watching the mother of trials in the world’s “worst case of kleptocracy”.

Malaysia will be in the world news again for the wrong reasons. There is, however, no shame in making your nation’s leader accountable to the rule of law. Only a pariah nation condones a corrupt leader. Many countries have fallen leaders. Eventually the law metes out justice for the people, and the allegedly corrupt are convicted and jailed. Every accused errant country leader has had to own up to one’s wrongdoings despite initial protests of innocence.

I clearly remember former US President Bill Clinton looked squarely at the TV camera and declared, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” In the end, he had to face the TV camera again and before the American public, confessed his misdeed. Truth won.

It takes a brave man to admit one’s mistakes. The public is more inclined to forgive a contrite sinner who confesses his mistakes and willful wrongdoings than a charlatan who further drags others into his morass of dishonesty and corruption. Najib has no choice but to submit to the laws of the land.

The four charges may be the first in a series of charges against Najib. Many of these involve foreign banks transactions. The government has been able to sift through the evidence from its own investigations and the evidence given by foreign sources. In time, the investigations involving local state-owned entities will unravel. Expect Najib to face more charges.

It is an insult to the public for the fallen Najib to cite political reasons behind his arrest and charges. These are wild accusations. For some years now, civil society, besides the politicians, have been complaining about the fraudulent activities of 1MDB. Surely Najib knows law-breaking prime ministers can expect to be charged.

Look at South Korea. “Almost all of South Korea’s presidents have seen their reputations tarnished toward the end of their tenure or during their retirement because of corruption scandals involving them, their relatives or aides,” the New York Times reported.

A former South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak (2008-2013), is jailed on charges of bribery and embezzlement, among others. Unlike Najib, Lee is contrite and remorseful. The NYT reported, “‘I consider all this my own fault and feel remorse,’ Mr Lee, 76, said in a handwritten statement posted on Facebook shortly before his arrest.” He is the fourth former president to have been arrested on corruption charges since the 1990s.

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Najib’s arrest shows rule of law is alive and well
Steve Oh
Malaysiakini

06
Jul
18

Malaysian officials reveal just how much 1MDB probe was obstructed

The cover-up: Malaysian officials reveal just how much 1MDB probe was obstructed

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – The government of former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak spent years systematically obstructing probes into the alleged looting of state fund 1MDB, while also ruthlessly muzzling critics, according to current and former government officials.

They said the meddling in the investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) effectively shut down local inquiries into the scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) even as five other countries, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore, carried out their own probes.

Any suppression of the probe in Malaysia ended abruptly in May when Najib lost power in an election. On Tuesday, Najib was arrested by the Malaysian authorities in relation to a probe into SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, according to an investigating task force. Sources close to the matter said he may face several charges.

Najib, who lost power in an election last month, has consistently denied any wrongdoing in relation to 1MDB and SRC. A current Najib aide declined to respond to allegations there was meddling and a cover-up.

Interviews by Reuters with a dozen current and former government officials show that the obstruction of investigators occurred on multiple levels.

One senior MACC investigator said he was convinced there was tampering with key witnesses. The official, who declined to be identified because he is still involved in the 1MDB probe, said he felt that by the time MACC got to talk to the witnesses they had been coached on what to say or were too frightened to talk because they had been threatened.

Other witnesses couldn’t be found. “There were some witnesses who disappeared, ran abroad,” and some were clearly told by officials from other government agencies to do so, said the MACC official. He didn’t name these witnesses because some of them are still being sought.

Najib’s office also sought to tightly control any public comment on 1MDB.

MACC is supposed to be an independent government agency that works without government interference, but three former MACC communications officers told Reuters that many of the press releases on the 1MDB probe issued by MACC were written by the prime minister’s office.

And it wasn’t just at the anti-corruption agency that the heat was intense.

New Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng, told Reuters there was an “extensive cover up” at the ministry of finance (MOF).

“ALMOST PERFECT CASE”

Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told Reuters the week before last that he holds Najib fully responsible for the 1MDB scandal and that Malaysian authorities have “an almost perfect case” against him.

As a result of an anti-kleptocracy probe, the U.S. Department of Justice has alleged more than $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB and that about $700 million of the fund’s money ended up in Najib’s personal bank accounts.

Najib told Reuters in an interview last month he shouldn’t be blamed for any of the problems at the fund and declared he knew nothing about why hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB allegedly appeared in his bank account.

Some of the ways in which those looking into the 1MDB scandal had been sidelined have been known for some time.

For example, in July 2015, Najib removed the then attorney general Abdul Gani Patail for “health reasons” at a time when the official was preparing to charge Najib. He also removed deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin the same month after he had criticized Najib over his handling of the scandal.

But the intensity of the pressure that MACC faced from other arms of government is only now becoming clear.

BULLET SENT TO HIS HOME

In May, about two weeks after Najib’s ousting, the newly appointed head of the MACC, Mohn Shukri Abdull, recalled how his investigation into 1MDB had been blocked in 2015.

Shukri, who had been deputy commissioner at MACC until he retired two years ago, recalled how he had faced threats to his job and worse – a bullet was sent to his home in 2015. He sought and received U.S. police protection during a visit to Washington and New York because he felt he was being followed by Malaysian government agents.

“We didn’t know who were the main people who were putting the pressure on MACC, but there were many of them,” another MACC official said. It “was coming from all sides.”

The senior MACC official also said police interfered in MACC’s investigations as they closed in on a probe on how about $10.6 million from SRC went into Najib’s bank account.

He said some witnesses in that probe could not be found because they were being held at police headquarters.

Malaysian police did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

Khalid Abu Bakar, who was Malaysia’s police chief from 2012-2017, has been barred from leaving Malaysia since the election. Mahathir has said Khalid would be investigated for his role in the 1MDB probe.

Khalid did not respond to a request for comment.

When asked about the sacking and transfer of officials involved in the probe, the Najib aide said the actions were to suppress a “political coup”. He denied there had been intimidation.

…more
The cover-up: Malaysian officials reveal just how much 1MDB probe was obstructed
Rozanna Latiff, A. Ananthalakshmi
3 July 2018 – Reuters

05
Jul
18

Najib Charged with CBT, Abuse of Power – Summary




The dawn of A Better Malaysia!
Rafidah Aziz, Hannah Yeoh, Ambiga at TTDI ceramah

 

Mahathir in Putrajaya ceramah

 

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BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
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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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