April 8, 2016
Malaysia: Auditor General’s 1MDB Report Classified–Protecting Prime Minister Najib Razak
by John Berthelsen (April 6, 2016)
Long-delayed report to Parliament, to be delivered tomorrow, comes under Official Secrets Act
Malaysia’s Auditor-General (Tan Sri Ambrin Buang) is expected to deliver a long-delayed report on the debt-strapped and scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd fund. tomorrow, April 7 to the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee. But nobody will see it. It is being released to the committee under the Official Secrets Act, which makes anybody who divulges the information liable to criminal prosecution.
Classifying the document under the Official Secrets Act is the latest in a long string of gambits by Prime Minister Najib Razak to keep the wraps on what arguably is the biggest scandal in Malaysian history. The Public Affairs Committee has concluded its own probe into the affair, and has been waiting for the auditor general’s report before releasing its own findings, which skeptics say are unlikely to produce any fireworks. Opposition figures have speculated that the committee’s own report would be a whitewash.
The scandal over the state-backed entity, however, involves allegations that the funding of the movie studio that produced the film Wolf of Wall Street came from 1MDB, that Najib’s young financier friend Jho Taek Low’s vain attempt to buy some of London’s classiest hotels including Claridge’s, the Connaught and the Berkeley was with the backing of a 1MDB guarantee letter, and allegations that hundreds of millions of US dollars were diverted from the fund into the pockets of the Penang-born Jho Low, as he is known. 1MDB officials have repeatedly denied wrongdoing and said they have been cooperating with authorities.
The delivery of the report comes at a time when at least five countries – the United States,Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg and the United Arab Emirates have launched investigations into allegations of spectacular diversion of money from the investment fund, which is said to face US$11 billion in unfunded liabilities. The Swiss government in January said at least US$4 billion has been misappropriated from the fund.
The 100-page report, written in Malay language, is not expected to be directed at Prime Minister Najib Razak himself despite the fact that he has been under fire for more than a year over revelations that US$681 million had mysteriously appeared in his personal accounts prior to the 2013 general election and that most of it had mysteriously been transferred out to a Swiss bank outlet in Singapore months later.
It is unlikely to contain information that hasn’t been leaked to a long list of newspapers and websites since the scandal blew into the open in 2014, in particular the Sarawak Report, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Asia Sentinel. Instead, according to a Kuala Lumpur source, it deals in detail with the 7.69 percent commission earned by Goldman Sachs in raising US$6.5 billion for 1MDB as well as netting as much as US$500 million for Goldman. Tim Leissner, the former head of Goldman’s Southeast Asia unit, is already under investigation in the United States over the transaction.
The probe, however, is also said to center on 1MDB’s acquisition of a string of steeply overpriced independent power producers from the Genting gambling interests and Ananda Krishnan, the country’s richest businessman and an UMNO crony, for RM11 billion to generate cash flow, at what were described as astounding valuations. Some of the IPPs were subsequently sold to Chinese interests in an effort to generate cash to pay back the gigantic loan arrears, which at one point were said to threaten the country’s financial system.
The sale of government-backed utilities to Chinese entities has raised other concerns over Malaysia’s sovereignty. The report, months in the making, was supposed to be released in February, but that was delayed until the first week of March, then delayed again to this week. As the investigation has ground slowly on, spectacular allegations of misdoing have emerged in the Sarawak Report, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Guardian and Australian newspapers. More recent ones detailed millions of dollars from a 1MDB subsidiary that poured into Najib’s own pockets via a company credit card used to buy jewelry and other items in Italy and Monaco.
In an effort to stem the leaks, Najib fired his Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail, the Deputy Director of the Police Special Branch investigative unit, and neutralized or otherwise defused a long list of investigating bodies and critical members of Parliament. Opposition members have been threatened with sedition and violation of the Official Secrets Act for a variety of revelations about the scandal.
Rafizi Ramli, the Secretary-Ggeneral of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat, was arrested earlier this week for revealing documents that showed the Armed Fund Board had poured money into 1MDB coffers. He is being under the Official Secrets Act and is to be held until April 8, according to local reports.
While the Prime Minister has largely managed to stifle all discussion of the affair in Malaysia, the investigations outside the country are almost certain to damaging, if the torrent of revelations in the foreign press is any indication. Preet Bharara, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has sent FBI agents to Malaysia to interview a string of bankers and other officials and, according to sources in Kuala Lumpur, frightened some of them badly by their depth of knowledge of details of the scandal, down to the time and date decisions were made and by whom.
In addition, the US Attorney’s Office is said to be looking into money-laundering charges involving the purchase of opulent New York and California properties said to have been purchased on the Najib family’s behalf by agents believed to be connected to Jho Low, the flamboyant young Penang-born financier that helped Najib set up 1MDB in the first place. Jho Low in the meantime has made himself scarce, operating out of his gigantic yacht.
Reportedly attempts have been made by Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor to seek through the foreign service to get the US government to call off Bharara’s investigation. US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Y. Yun has denied that he received any calls from the wife of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, asking that the investigation into family financial dealings in the US be called off, however.
By contrast, in Malaysia it is the critics, like Rafizi today, who have been arrested…
Within 12 hours, crowds of Icelanders were on the streets of Reykjavik, outside their Parliament building, demanding the resignation of their PM. Why? Because, this individual in high office had been found to have a wife with an off-shore bank account.
Although there was no proof of tax evasion or illegally obtained cash (the usual story behind so many off-shore accounts), Icelanders disliked the lack of transparency.
They also detected a conflict of interest, in that the company held shares in local banks, whose bankruptcy issues the Prime Minister was over-seeing. The PM, it was established, had not declared this potential conflict, on behalf of his wife, when he took office. Clearly, this could not be acceptable, in the view of the public.
Faced with such a loss of popular confidence, within 36 hours their Prime Minister resigned – after all, public office is all about respect and confidence. Official secret? Probably – see the reference by the AG himself to this account in the papers he waived at the time of “clearing” Najib
Philanthropic jewellery purchases?
Meanwhile, more than a year after outrageous, billion dollar misappropriations were revealed to have taken place from 1MDB, which is headed by the Malaysian Prime Minister, an arrest has taken place – also in front of the Parliament building, this time in KL.
Except, the arrest in question was of an opposition MP, who has challenged the management of the 1MDB development fund and revealed secret documents (just like the Panama Papers) to back his arguments.
The MP remains, at the time of writing, in detention, without access to a lawyer – allegedly under the provisions of the Malaysian Official Secrets Act.
Meanwhile, Sarawak Report can confirm that not one of the journalists, who has embarrassed and undermined the former Icelandic Prime Minister with regard to his wife’s affairs, has been banned, faced a warrant for arrest (for “attempting to topple a ‘democratically elected’ Prime Minister”) or indeed been slapped with an Interpol terrorist Red Alert notice…. or any such thing.
Visa Platinum card (as publicised by AG in his demonstration of the findings of the official investigation) and payments to Sardinian jewellery outfit by Najib.So, what is going on?
Prime Minister Najib must find himself exasperated by the lack of stamina of his Icelandic colleague. On the other hand, he must also be hugely relieved that the good citizens of KL are plainly too nervous to stand outside his own Parliament building and demand the obvious from him.
So, perhaps this is not the moment to reveal documents we have recently received, which are embarrassing to the Prime Minister, to say the least. Or, perhaps to the contrary we will begin by refreshing minds as to the bank account and credit card numbers referred to on the charts waived by the loyal AG Apandi, at the time he “cleared” the PM?
Here is the chart of bank account numbers, which match the PM’s spending!
With this information to hand, we invite readers to continue to peruse some of the investigation documents which, according to ABC Four Corners, caused the former Attorney General, the former Deputy Prime Minister and the Agong (amongst other officials contacted under the correct and lawful procedures that until recently existed in Malaysia) to sign a warrant to detain the PM last July.
Euros 660,000 received from the Sardinian branch of jewellers Grisogno in summer 2014 on Najib’s platinum card. What such expenditures show, for example, is that around RM3 million was spent on just one day’s jewellery shopping at one flash store in Sardinia, during the Najib Razak family August holiday in 2014 – all on the PM’s platinum credit cards.
Nik Faisal Arif Kamil (above)–A Fugitive in Jakarta, Indonesia
Malaysians also now know that this money originated from the 1MDB subsidiary company SRC, managed by Nik Faisal Arif Kamil (who also for some reason had authority to manage the PM’s accounts).
Apandi Ali appointed to protect Malaysia’s most corrupt Prime Minister
The Prime Minister himself has now himself admitted to all this – given the evidence what else could he do? However, the A-G (whom he appointed after sacking the earlier one who had issued the warrant for his arrest) has, as we know, “cleared” him, after accepting the excuse that Najib didn’t know that his pal, Nik (now a fugitive in Jakarta) had done any of this jiggery pokery with his accounts.
Malaysians also know that this SRC money all originated from a loan obtained from the public pension fund KWAP, which has never been properly accounted for.
Such stuff would be enough to bring those tetchy Icelanders out on the streets in a considerable temper, one would assume. Their PM would have lasted less than 5 minutes!
After all, there is lot’s more of this annoying evidence, which has been coming out over the past few days, including statements, which show that much of this money from KWAP via SRC was used by the PM to pay cheques to various individuals during this periods in 2014:
Who were those cheques for?
Najib has, of course, through his spokespeople, over the past days clarified that all these payments were intended for ‘charitable purposes’ via his good offices. Specifically, he has mentioned poor orphans and flood disaster victims (admittedly he must have felt a bit guilty, having taken so long to realise their plight in the middle of playing golf with Obama and spending another fortune at Cartier in Honolulu).
So, jewels for them! He has also mentioned he forked out for silk carpets at unspecified mosques.As we say, he is lucky he is peddling these excuses to his sweet fellow Malaysians… because, goodness knows how those Bugis Icelandic Viking types would have reacted to excuses of this nature.We can probably guess.
Casa/TD BGL – Another fortunate provider of philanthropy to Malaysians in trouble, hired by the PM?