Posts Tagged ‘1MDB

17
May
18

A Stunning, Sudden Fall for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s ‘Man of Steal’ – NY Times

A Stunning, Sudden Fall for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s ‘Man of Steal’

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Just a few months ago, the political machine led by Najib Razak, the gilded prime minister of Malaysia, appeared so indestructible that a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal seemed unlikely to derail it. The end came so quickly, so completely, that even his opponents were shocked.

For nearly a decade, Mr. Najib, 64, had unfettered control of his nation’s courts and coffers. His party had thrived by unfailingly delivering huge cash handouts at election time. The media was at his disposal; journalists he didn’t like, he shut down. Political foes were shoved into prison.

The pampered son of a prime minister and nephew of another, Mr. Najib enjoyed the friendship of President Trump, who after playing golf with him in 2014 gave him a photo inscribed, “To my favorite prime minister.” Last year, Mr. Trump hosted Mr. Najib at the White House, even as the United States Department of Justice accused him of taking Malaysian state money.

But his authority suddenly evaporated in the early hours after Malaysia’s national elections on May 9 delivered a commanding majority to the opposition, now led by the political titan who had once lifted Mr. Najib to power: the 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad.

The opposition was fractious, and remains so, but it was galvanized by a single purpose: to deliver the ouster of Mr. Najib to an electorate furious at his excesses and emboldened by social media even as news outlets were being muzzled.

Now, Mr. Najib is suddenly vulnerable to criminal charges at home, as well as a reinvigorated effort by the Justice Department as it pursues billions of dollars missing from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, the country’s state investment fund supervised by Mr. Najib for years.

The details released from that investigation in the past three years painted a lurid picture of a Malaysian leader and his family members and friends living high on diverted public money.

Prosecutors say that hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund appeared in Mr. Najib’s personal account and was spent on luxury items including a 22-carat pink diamond necklace, worth $27.3 million, for his wife. In all some $7.5 billion was stolen from the fund, prosecutors say, and spent on paintings by Monet, Van Gogh and Warhol and others worth more than $200 million; on luxury real estate in the United States; and even on a megayacht for a family friend, Jho Low, who reveled in his Hollywood connections.

Those accusations, and others, became grist for social media outrage in Malaysia, frequently on private WhatsApp groups, but it seemed Mr. Najib still underestimated how much he was losing: a public that still valued some semblance of moderation, his once unbreakable Malay power base, even family members.

Mr. Najib’s stepdaughter, Azrene Ahmad, took to Instagram on Friday with an emotional condemnation of him and her mother, Rosmah Mansor, who had become widely known here for piling up designer labels, garlands of jewelry and a multimillion-dollar handbag collection that more than rivaled the shoe fetish of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines.

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A Stunning, Sudden Fall for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s ‘Man of Steal’
By Hannah Beech, Richard C. Paddock and Alexandra Stevenson
May 15, 2018 – NY Times

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04
May
18

Mahathir vows to stop ‘corrupt’ protege

‘This election is personal’: Mahathir Mohamad, 92, vows to stop ‘corrupt’ protege

Mahathir Mohamad is 92 and by his own account should be enjoying a “nice time” during his retirement. But instead, Malaysia’s arch political puppetmaster and former prime minister is returning to the political fray, bent on toppling his former protege and reclaiming power.

This time around, the man whose ambitions and political grudges came to influence every major power shift in the country for decades has his sights on bringing down the current prime minister, Najib Razak, a man he dismisses as “corrupt”.

Mahathir insists it is with “great reluctance” that he is running for prime minister again. If he wins, it will make him the oldest leader in the world.

“It’s still quite unexpected,” he tells the Guardian in an interview in his airy office in the administrative capital Putrajaya. “I thought I would retire and have a nice time, but people demanded, kept on asking me to do something. Eventually I’ve had to form a party. I’ve had to be directly involved; I have no choice.”

Mahathir ruled Malaysia with a notoriously iron first from 1981 to 2003, but now gives off the air of a world-weary academic who is allowing himself to be martyred for his cause. “This election is personal. I feel betrayed by him, I can’t help it. Najib cannot separate personal things from political workings,” he says, describing in a tone of great injury how Najib has banned anyone in government from being in contact with him, even those Mahathir has known for years.

There is a certain irony to his vendetta against the current prime minister. Najib was groomed in office by Mahathir and was once described as his protege. But their allegiance turned to animosity in 2015, when Najib was implicated in the 1MDB scandal, when $2.6bn of a government fund that Najib himself set up went missing and was embezzled around the world. Some $681m of 1MDB money is alleged to have been transferred directly into Najib’s bank account.

While Najib denied the allegations and cleared himself of any wrongdoing, the Malaysian government investigation is widely regarded as a farce, with not a single person arrested. According to Mahathir, the scandal was the moment he realised that Najib was “not the man I thought he was”.

“Why do I want to remove Najib? I should have thought the whole world would know,” says Mahathir incredulously. “This man steals money. Not a few hundred dollars, not a few thousand dollars – he stole billions of dollars and that has been verified by investigations here in Malaysia and the US.”

His soft tone becomes suddenly irate. “Najib has made Malaysia among the 10 most corrupt countries in the world and we have evidence to show, evidence that he has covered up under the Official Secrets Act and banned people from talking about [it]. He’s using money to buy up people. He told me himself that ‘cash is king’, told me that [with] that ‘with money I can do whatever I like’.”

According to Mahathir, there are no villainous depths Najib will not sink to. This week he upped the ante further by accusing Najib’s government of having someone “deliberately tamper with” his airplane, almost preventing him from being able to register as a candidate in the seat he is running for, Langkawi, and therefore stop Mahathir from being able to run as opposition leader.

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‘This election is personal’: Mahathir Mohamad, 92, vows to stop ‘corrupt’ protege
2 May 2018 – The Guardian

04
May
18

1MDB Graft Scandal Heats Up Malaysia Politics

AP Explains: 1MDB Graft Scandal Heats Up Malaysia Politics

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Malaysia’s image as a striving, modern nation that upholds the rule of law has been undermined by an epic corruption scandal at state investment fund 1MDB. Prime Minister Najib Razak, who set up the fund, is facing May 9 national elections that will test his legitimacy. Past Malaysian governments largely succeeded in lifting the country from poverty and attracting foreign investors, part of a long-term goal of reaching developed world income status. But last year, Malaysia sank to its worst-ever rating in the influential Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International.

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1MDB WHAT?

The fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, was set up in 2009 to promote economic development. Najib chaired its advisory board and as finance minister held veto power over its activities. Between 2009 and 2014, top executives and associates of Najib looted $4.5 billion from the fund, laundering it through the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland and other countries, according to a U.S. Justice Department civil case seeking to recover part of that money. About $700 million landed in Najib’s bank account, though he denies any wrongdoing. 1MDB now staggers under enormous debt, has sold assets to Chinese interests and is slated to be shuttered.

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POLITICAL EARTHQUAKE

Najib in 2015 sacked his attorney general and a deputy prime minister for demanding answers about 1MDB. A parliamentary inquiry found many irregularities but had no mandate to prosecute. Outraged by the scandal, former leader Mahathir Mohammad came out of political retirement and the opposition has united behind him in the national elections. The government recently passed a “fake news” law that could be used to further stifle reporting on the case within Malaysia.

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MODUS OPERANDI

The U.S. Justice Department alleges there were four phases to the conspiracy that all involved the use of layers of foreign bank accounts and shell companies to launder the money. It says initially a $1 billion investment was diverted and in subsequent phases money was siphoned from sales of 1MDB bonds. In some cases, the names of shell companies operating the bank accounts mimicked the names of the rightful beneficiaries. When the banks questioned large money transfers, the conspirators used fake business documents to address their concerns, the department says. The U.S. says the money it is seeking to recover was gambled in Las Vegas, used to buy hotels, apartments, a luxury yacht, a jet, diamond jewelry and art works and to finance Hollywood films including the “Wolf of Wall Street” and “Dumb and Dumber To.”
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KEY PLAYER

U.S. prosecutors allege that Malaysian Low Taek Jho, usually known as Jho Low, was a central figure who orchestrated the ransacking of 1MDB. A friend of Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz, Low had no official role at 1MDB but had considerable influence over its dealings and was often in contact with Najib, according to the Justice Department. “Looks like we may have hit a goldmine” he said in an email to family members after organizing a 1MDB deal that would later allegedly become a money laundering vehicle. Singapore fined eight banks for failing to carry out proper anti-money laundering measures in relation to 1MDB and gave prison sentences to several bankers. It has seized 240 million Singapore dollars ($180 million) of property and cash and says about half of that belonged to Low and his immediate family. Earlier this year when U.S. authorities tried to seize a luxury yacht belonging to Low that was anchored off Bali, he accused them of judicial overreach, Malaysian media reported.

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$700 MILLION QUESTION

The Justice Department’s civil case filings say more than $700 million was transferred from bank accounts used in the money laundering to the bank account of “Malaysian Official 1.” It didn’t name the official, but corroborating details made it clear it was Najib. Some $20 million landed in Najib’s account between February and June 2011, another $30 million between October and November 2012, and $681 million in March 2013. A new attorney general attempted to clear Najib in 2016, saying the $681 million was a political donation from the Saudi royal family and that most of it was returned. The Justice Department says $620 million left Najib’s account in August 2013, returning to the account controlled by an associate of Low where it originated. Separately, $238 million was allegedly transferred from an account controlled by Low to Najib’s stepson Aziz, founder of Hollywood production company Red Granite Pictures, and used to finance films and buy luxury real estate.

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AP Explains: 1MDB Graft Scandal Heats Up Malaysia Politics
By The Associated Press
May 2, 2018 – NY Times

09
Jul
17

PH leaders hail Dr Mahathir-Anwar pact as key to overthrowing BN

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PH leaders hail Dr Mahathir-Anwar pact as key to overthrowing BN
7 Jul 2017 – Malaysian Insight

26
Apr
16

PetroSaudi’s US$1 billion ruse

PetroSaudi’s US$1 billion ruse

Barely a month after the Finance Ministry took over Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), a royal suitor came a-knocking.

On Aug 8, 2009, Prince Turki of Saudi Arabia sent a letter to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to introduce PetroSaudi International chief executive Tarek Obaid.

Tarek proposed a joint venture with the fund, now rebranded 1MDB. The deal – US$1 billion from 1MDB and some questionable “oil wells” in Argentina and Turkmenistan said to belong to PetroSaudi International.

But this was Tarek’s first introduction to the fund.

According to the Hansard of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) hearings on 1MDB, then chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi said Tarek was first introduced to TIA through TIA’s special advisor, businessman Jho Low.

Low’s involvement continued and at one point he showed up at a 1MDB board meeting to speak on behalf of Prince Turki and Tarek to convince the skittish board to sign off on the joint venture.

Ten days after the board first heard of the deal, it was signed on Sept 28, 2009 – leaving the board “angry” and prompting board member Bakke Mohd Saleh to resign.

“The Auditor-General’s Department’s analysis concludes that the decision to invest in the joint venture 1MDB PetroSaudi Limited was done without strategic planning due to the short period of eight days (lead time), was conducted without detailed evaluation and before issues raised by the board was resolved.

“The joint venture agreement also included clauses which did not protect 1MDB’s interest,” the Public Accounts Committee’s report table at the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday says.

Forty-eight hours after the joint venture was inked, an unrelated company – allegedly Low-linked Good Star Limited – is US$700 million richer.

How did this dubious deal take place under everyone’s noses? Follow the chronology of events below.

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PetroSaudi’s US$1 billion ruse
Malaysiakini

20
Feb
16

Damning charts revealed by Apandi

ag2

Pua wants answers on charts exposed by AG

The MP doesn’t understand why Petrosaudi International Limited’s (Seychelles) acquisition of Taib Mahmud’s UBG was partially funded by a USD500 million loan by 1MDB.

KUALA LUMPUR: The expose by Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali last week on Tuesday, inadvertent or otherwise, uncovered a whole web of intrigue involving a myriad of companies related in one way or another to 1MDB and Penangite Jho Low, stressed Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua in a statement. “It has raised new questions over the entire episode.”

“These questions need to be answered.”

Pua, who is also DAP National Publicity Secretary, has five questions for starters . Why did SRC International advance RM140 million to Putra Perdana?; Who authorized the advances?; Why did Tabung Haji (TH) acquire 30 per cent in Putrajaya Perdana?; How much did it pay for the stake?; and Who are the ultimate owners of Putrajaya Perdana?

Most crucially, asked Pua, did TH bail out Putrajaya Perdana to enable the latter to repay the RM140 million advance from SRC International. “TH, SRC International, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as the Finance Minister and Apandi Ali cannot continue to feign ignorance over the entire ugly scandal.”

TH invested an undisclosed sum in Putrajaya Perdana despite the fact that the latter failed to submit its annual audited accounts to the Companies Commission since December 2013, added Pua. “Soon after the 30 per cent acquisition by TH, Putra Perdana Development refunded the RM140 million to Putra Perdana Construction, which in turn refunded the money to SRC International on 12 December 2014.”

Putrajaya Perdana Berhad was previously acquired by Jho Low’s vehicle Abu Dhabi Kuwait Malaysia Investment Corporation (ADKMIC) before being sold to Taib Mahmud’s UBG Bhd, all of which took place in 2007, continued Pua. “The latter in turn sold a majority stake in UBG to ADKMIC in January 2008.”

What Pua doesn’t understand is why Petrosaudi International Limited (Seychelles) not only acquired UBG for RM1.4 billion, but its purchase was partially funded by a USD500 million loan by 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in September 2010.

Jho Low’s right hand man, Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, was not only the Executive Director of Investments for UBG, discovered Pua, he was also at the same time Chief Investment Officer of 1MDB. “Nik Faisal later became the Managing Director of SRC International after it was set up in 2012.”

Putrajaya Perdana was reportedly subsequently sold to Cendana Destini Sdn Bhd in September 2012, belabours Pua. “However, the true ownership of Putrajaya Perdana was unclear as the company’s record in the Companies Commission had its shareholding under a nominee account in AmSec Nominees (Tempatan) Sdn Bhd.”

The Attorney-General exposed a damning transfer amounting to RM27 million by SRC International to the Prime Minister during his press conference last week. This took place when Apandi Ali held up several documents to emphasize the fact that his office had carried out thorough investigations.

One of the charts clearly showed that SRC International transferred RM35 million on 8 July 2014 to Putra Perdana Construction Sdn Bhd, which then transferred RM34.99 million to Permai Binaraya Sdn Bhd, which then paid RM27 million to Najib’s private bank account ending “880”.

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Pua wants answers on charts exposed by AG
February 2, 2016 – FMT

16
Aug
15

Freedom or totalitarianism?

COMMENT It is all too apparent that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s lightning move to remove the attorney-general and reshuffle his cabinet on July 28 was done for the singular purpose of neutering criminal investigations and impending prosecution arising from the 1MDB scandal and the RM2.6 billion in Najib’s personal bank accounts.

By removing AG Gani Patail and offering cabinet positions to members of the parliamentary accounts committee (PAC), Najib hopes to avert impending prosecution and postpone imminent PAC hearings on key players in 1MDB, which in all certainty, will expose the alleged multi-billion heist that will grievously hurt Najib.

Sacking of AG highly dubious

The so-called sacking of Gani is heavily tainted with unconstitutionality, illegality, deceit and malicious intent.

The circumstances of the announcement immediately aroused suspicion. It was announced on July 28 by national news agency Bernama through a one-sentence tweet stating that Gani’s services as AG were terminated on July 27 due to health reasons, quoting the chief secretary of the government.

When asked on July 28, Gani said he had no idea that he had been sacked.

Questions galore: Why wasn’t Gani (photo) informed? Why wasn’t there a letter of termination from the Head of State Agong, who is the only authority to appoint or to remove the AG? If Gani had to stop work due to health reasons, why were we told that Gani would still continue to serve as a legal staff till his statutory retirement date in coming October? And why had Gani never complained of ill health? And why didn’t PM Najib announce that he had ‘sacked’ Gani?

As the AG is designated by the constitution as the sole decision-maker as to whether a person should prosecuted, the independence of his position is guaranteed by mandating his termination through a tribunal appointed by the Agong. Hence, the currently unceremonious ‘dumping’ of Gani is obviously an unconstitutional move.

Sabotaging investigations and prosecutions

Conspiracy theories abound as to why Najib had to act like a desperado. Is it to avert an immediate prosecution which only the AG had the power to execute – keeping in mind that there have been a series of arrests arising from the investigations of the special task force probing the twin scandals of Najib’s RM2.6 billion and the 1MDB fiasco? The task force is made up of the chiefs of police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and Bank Negara, co-ordinated by the AG.

Another body hot on the heels of these scandals is the PAC, which is due to grill the current and former CEOs of 1MDB starting from Aug 4, and also to hear two former directors of 1MDB who resigned in indignation over the theft of US$700 million immediately after signing an allegedly bogus joint venture agreement with PetroSaudi in September 2009.

Immediately after the cabinet reshuffle on July 28, where PAC chairperson Nur Jazlan Mohamed (photo) and three other members were offered positions in the cabinet, Nur Jazlan announced a suspension of PAC hearings pending appointment of new members in the next parliamentary session commencing in October.

Thus in one lightning swoop, Najib had apparently incapacitated the pursuers of the scandals and immunise himself from harm, and perhaps hopefully, to bury these scandals.

If Najib succeeds, Malaysians will have to bury their heads in shame, and the credibility of this country will suffer a grievous and irreparable blow.

Who would still trust a country where the prime minister can escape unscathed with RM2.6 billion allegedly unaccounted for in his bank accounts and tens of billions of ringgit of public funds evaporated into thin air through a so-called sovereign wealth fund, of which he is allegedly personally responsible?

Can our institutions – the police force, the anti-corruption commission MACC, Central Bank and the Attorney-General’s Chambers – stand the shame of being cowed and neutered by a tyrannical hand in contempt of our constitution and law?

We must defend against authorianism

No, we must not allow this to happen, because we have too much too lose and too much to defend.

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Jul 29, 2015 – malaysiakini
By Kim Quek
Freedom or totalitarianism?




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

 

Mahathir in Putrajaya ceramah

 

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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