July 23, 2016
The COMMENT from Ambassador John R. Mallot, former US Ambassador to Malaysia on the article by our mutual friend, John Berthelsen of http://www.asiasentinel.com merits top billing as he outlines in simple, readable English what can happen next.
Ambassador Malott also asks us Malaysians to think: What are we going to do next? Sit still, do nothing and suffer in silence. There is a limit to what countries like Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom, United States and others can do for us. It is our collective responsibility to fight for good governance, democracy, freedom and justice. Otherwise, we deserve the status quo. The former US Ambassador is not optimistic that we will act.
No way, Mr. Ambassador. Maria Chin Abdullah is planning BERSIH 5.0. to show our government led by Prime Minister Najib Razak that enough is enough. We should also have a Royal Commission of Inquiry on 1MDB, as suggested by Lim Kit Siang.
Only UMNO Malays will glorify the Prime Minister. They will blame Israel, Zionists and the Jewish diaspora. As usual, our Ulamas ( I call them ularmak or mother of snakes) will say Islam is being attacked by the infidels and Najib is their Defender of the Faith.
What additional evidence do we need to show conclusively that our Prime Minister Najib and his cohorts in 1MDB are crooks of the worst kind. They have taken billion of ringgits from our Treasury and we are now expected to bear the burden of having to service and repay the loans. I expect all Malaysians to know that without income and profits from hardworking Malaysians and corporations, our government will not have the revenue to service the mounting national debt. Why are we trusting our foxes to guard the hen house? That beats me.–Din Merican
Here is Ambassador Mallot’s comment:
As always, John Bertelsen clarifies everything so well. Some thoughts about what happens next, on the US side:
The US Government already has seized all of this property. So now Aziz and Jho Low cannot sell anything and try to get their money out of the US.
The next step, as John Bethelsen points out, is for Aziz, Jho Low, and others to prove in a court of law that the property truly was purchased with their own money and was not the result of stealing money from 1MDB. Of course, they cannot prove that. The FBI and DOJ filing is thorough and professional. The proof is all there. It even includes the transcripts of wiretapped phone calls of Jho Low talking to his bankers.
The US Government will hold all of that property — the real estate, the paintings, the rights to “Wolf of Wall Street,” etc. IN CUSTODY (or trust) on behalf of the people of Malaysia, from whom the money was stolen. But — the assets will NOT belong to the US Government.
As the US Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the others pointed out, the money was stolen from the people of Malaysia. The assets belong to them. (How ironic that the US Attorney General seems to care more about this thievery than the Malaysian Attorney General does…)
In the meantime the US Government will rent out Aziz’s condo in NYC and his Beverly Hills house. They will take over the management of the hotels in New York and Beverly Hills that were purchased with the stolen money. The US Government will collect the profits from all future sales of the DVDs and TV rights of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The Monet and Van Gogh paintings will go on exhibition somewhere. And so on. And all of that profit will be held by the US Government for the Malaysian people.
Young Aziz will be homeless. In order to save itself and the films it has in production (including a new film about George Washington, starring Leonardo Dicaprio), Red Granite Pictures will get rid of him. So Aziz will be jobless, too.
When the US Government files criminal charges against Aziz (and I am sure they will), they will ask the court to seize his passport, so he cannot leave the US. The Malaysian Embassy in Washington will then try to defraud the US Government and issue a new passport to Aziz so that he can leave the country — and we will see how efficient the US Government is at catching this.
If the Malaysian Government asks for the property to be transferred back to them, the US Government will do so.But as Berthelsen points out, will Najib do that? No. If Najib asks for the money back, it means that he is admitting that the money was stolen from the development fund that he headed, that the stolen money went to his stepson and his “advisor” Jho Low, and that he has been lying about this to the Malaysian people for years.
Of course he will never do that. Asking for the money back will have to wait for a request from a future Prime Minister. And why would Najib want to ask “for the money back,” when he and his family and cronies already have it — or have spent it?
From an international viewpoint, this is the end of Najib. He is an international pariah. He is a crook. He is a fraud. The world will want nothing to do with him. He will not be welcome anywhere. People will be embarrassed to be seen with him, to shake his hand, to be photographed with him.
As for Rosmah, her credit at Hermes and Tiffany’s and elsewhere will be cut off. Now those luxury stores know that the money was not hers. It was stolen from the Malaysian people, and they do not want to be complicit. They have their own reputations to protect.
That is how the world will react. But how will the Malaysian people react? Will Najib get away with this, back in Malaysia? I fear that the answer is yes. If so, it means that Malaysia is now in Mugabe-Land.
The IGP says that the US Government never asked for cooperation from the Malaysian Government in their investigation. Yet both the MACC and the FBI have said that they cooperated with each other in the investigation. The IGP knows the truth, so why did he say otherwise?
The Attorney General says that this is all speculation and innuendo, and that there is no proof for the US Government’s charges. Yet the US Government issued a very thorough, professional, and detailed 136-page filing with the court. It is there for the AG to read, rather than insult the US Government.
As long as the IGP and Attorney General continue to deny the truth in the face of overwhelming evidence — we know where this is going. But now I have to ask my Malaysia friends — in Malaysia, where will this go? Is there no way to save Malaysia?–John R. Malott
1MDB Saga– US Department of Justice does Malaysia a great favour
by John Berthelsen
… Najib has been able to shortstop more than a year and a half of allegations by both opposition figures and members of his own government, threatening accusers with sedition charges and firing or otherwise neutralizing government investigators as well. Kevin Morais, a lawyer working on charges against the Prime Minister for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, was kidnapped and murdered last September after it became apparent that he was feeding information to Clare Rewcastle Brown, the indefatigable editor of the Sarawak Report, who has done more than anyone else to delineate wrongdoing involving Najib, Rosmah and 1MDB.–John Berthelsen
Reports in American newspapers that the US government plans to seize more than US$1 billion in assets purchased by funds allegedly stolen from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd. sovereign wealth fund brings a massive scandal one giant step closer to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
According to stories in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, the properties, bought through Delaware shell companies, involve real estate in Los Angeles and New York, which according to other sources are believed to be closely tied to the Najib family, particularly Najib’s is Riza Aziz, Rosmah’s son by a previous marriage.
The other is Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low as he is known, who was the brains behind setting up 1MDB in the first place. Although Najib himself was the financial adviser to the fund until quite recently and according to statute was responsible for signing off on all of the 1MDB financial transactions, he is not expected to be named. After establishing a flamboyant presence in New York’s café scene, Jho Low has more recently made himself scarce in the US.
The Justice Department action, expected to take place on July 20 in the US, follows a May 24 move by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to force the closure of BSI Bank Ltd – the first merchant bank to be closed in Singapore in 32 years – for its role in what Singapore authorities charged were 41 cases of breaches of money laundering and other Singapore laws. MAS Managing Director Ravi Menon called BSI Bank “the worst case of control lapses and gross misconduct that we have seen in the Singapore financial sector.”
Investigations into 1MDB are said to be underway in seven countries, although the US one is believed to be the most advanced. Swiss authorities have charged that as much as US$4 billion may have been laundered out of the fund into Swiss banks. In all, according to Democratic Action Party spokesman Tony Pua, speaking to local media, the government may be forced to take over more than MYR27 billion (US$6.75 billion) in unfunded liabilities from 1MDB, which was ordered shut down in May with its assets and liabilities to be transferred to the Ministry of Finance.
So far, Najib has been able to shortstop more than a year and a half of allegations by both opposition figures and members of his own government, threatening accusers with sedition charges and firing or otherwise neutralizing government investigators as well. Kevin Morais, a lawyer working on charges against the Prime Minister for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, was kidnapped and murdered last September after it became apparent that he was feeding information to Clare Rewcastle Brown, the indefatigable editor of the Sarawak Report, who has done more than anyone else to delineate wrongdoing involving Najib, Rosmah and 1MDB.
Clare Rewcastle Brown, the indefatigable editor of the Sarawak Report
Through it all, relying on intimidation of accusers and by alleging to his ethnic constituency that the accusations were a Chinese plot to take power away from ethnic Malays, relying as well on stirring religious extremism, Najib has been able to ride out what is considered the biggest political and financial scandal in Malaysian history, possibly involving at least two murders ( that of Kevin Morais and Hussein Najadi).
A statewide election in Sarawak in May, plus two by-elections in June that were won by the United Malays National Organization and its Sarawak allies left Najib riding high politically and planning a possible national snap election that would cement his leadership for the next five years under Malaysia’s parliamentary system.
Now, however, given the US action against properties that are closely tied to his family, it is questionable whether he wants to dare such an election, even with a fragmented and ineffective opposition. Lim Guan Eng, the Secretary General of the Democratic Action Party, is under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for purchasing a home from a friend well below the market price.
Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the three-party Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition, is in prison, serving five years on trumped-up charges of sexual perversion. The Islamist Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS), the third leg of the coalition, has split into two factions over the issue of implementing Islamic law in the one state the party controls.
The government has also maintained ruthless control over the press, temporarily suspending The Edge financial newspaper group after it printed damning allegations against 1MDB and driving the Malaysian Insider, an influential online publication, out of business. The government has also blocked Sarawak Report and Asia Sentinel from online circulation in Malaysia.
Thus, it is almost certain that Najib can remain in power unless an indictment is brought against him or other members of his family. For instance, he has so far survived an announcement late last year by French authorities that two officials of the defense company Thales had been indicted specifically on charges of bribing Najib over the purchase of French submarines more than a decade ago.
In this case, it appears that the assets the US Justice Department is expected to confiscate are closely tied to the Najibs themselves. According to the New York Times, they include real estate which is believed to have been purchased for the Najib family by Jho Low through shell companies, as well as art and other luxury goods. The US, for instance, may be after assets connected to Red Granite Productions, partly owned by Rosmah’s son Reza Aziz, which produced the award-winning Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo de Caprio.
As the Times pointed out, the forfeiture process is lengthy, with a court required to ascertain that no other interested party has a valid claim to the properties. In turn, that raises the interesting question whether members of the Najib family might dare to step forward to claim them. Once true ownership is determined, the court must decide whether the money used to buy those assets was, in fact, earned illicitly. Only then can the government permanently seize the assets, the Times asserted.