Scramble for Scapegoats begins as 1MDB scandal deepens


March 3, 2015

Scramble for Scapegoats begins as 1MDB scandal deepens

by FMT Reporters@www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Analyst says it looks like PMO has started trying to distance Najib from a possible scandal.

1mdb-scapegoats2Lodin Wok Kamaruddin (Center)

It appears that the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has begun the process of trying to wash PM Najib’s hands clean of what may turn out to be the biggest political and financial scandal in recent Malaysian history, according to analyst Shahbudin Husin.

Tied to that process may be a search for a scapegoat, he writes in a blog entry that indicates his belief that the 1MDB controversy is close to reaching a climax.

He refers to a recent report in London’s Sunday Times which quoted the PMO as saying that Najib was not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.

Rosmah with NajibHe needs Divine Help on 1MDB

“It’s obvious that this was an attempt to distance Najib from any problems 1MDB may now be facing,” he says. “But it’s not so easy to lift the burden off Najib’s shoulders for he is the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister and Chairman of the company’s board of advisors. Can we believe that funds in such large amounts can be invested or disbursed without Najib’s knowledge or consent?”

If 1MDB had been successful, he adds, there’s no doubt that the success would have been attributed to Najib’s acumen in his day-to-day involvement with the company. Shahbudin wonders who will become the scapegoat or scapegoats in the event the 1MDB affair unravels and turns out to be a major scandal or, as DAP’s Tony Pua has put it, “the heist of the century”.

“Will the scapegoat be Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, the current Chairman of 1MDB? Will the second and third scapegoats be its former CEO, Mohd Hazem Abdul Rahman and his successor, Arul Kanda Kandasamy? Will there be other scapegoats still?”

Shahbudin notes that the PMO’s statement to the Sunday Times came after a claim by whistleblower website Sarawak Report that it was in possession of emails and documents showing that 1MDB’s joint venture with PetroSaudi in 2009 was allegedly a front to channel funds to a company controlled by tycoon Jho Low.

Riza and Jho Low

Riza Aziz and his Penang born Buddy

He says it would be difficult for Najib to deny any association with Jho Low because the playboy tycoon is a close friend of his stepson, Riza Aziz.“Besides reports that Jho Low has become close to the Prime Minister’s wife through Riza, there have also been reports that Najib himself has met him several times overseas,” he says.

“With the new allegation that Jho Low tried to make off with RM2.5 billion of 1MDB’s money, the call for the truth to be revealed to the public, perhaps through a royal commission of inquiry, has grown louder.”

Transparency International Malaysia calls for Investigation into 1MDB Scandal


March 3, 2015

Transparency International Malaysia calls for Investigation into 1MDB Scandal

by  The Malaysian Insider @www.themalaysianinsider.com

Pressure is mounting on Putrajaya as anti-graft organisation Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M) has joined in the calls for an investigation into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the government-owned strategic investment fund embroiled in a financial scandal.

1MDB-The Scandal1MDB

TI-M said a “special high level task force” was needed to probe the debt-ridden 1MDB, adding that an audit of its accounts by the Auditor-General’s Office would not suffice as its financial irregularities had drawn international attention and cast doubts over Putrajaya’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

“Furthermore, 1MDB’s finances a‎re high level issues of public importance as well as of national interest as it involves tax payers’ money and the potentially consequential damaging impact that it poses to the banking system and the nation’s economy.

“TI-M calls for the immediate formation of a special task force comprising agencies such as Commercial Crime Division of Police, Auditor’s General Office, Bank Negara Malaysia, Ministry of Finance and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate 1MDB’s finances,” said TI-M in a statement.

It suggested that 1MDB’s former auditors, Ernst & Young and KPMG, be included in this task force as their “unexpected withdrawal” could provide explanations and leads into the investigation.TI-M said the collaboration of these various agencies were necessary, given the complicated nature of 1MDB’s financial transactions.

It said the task force must have the power to call relevant organisations and individuals to assist in its investigation.”It may uncover a plethora of larger issues such as corporate crime, embezzlement, corruption, misappropriation, mismanagement of funds, inappropriate decision making and unethical behaviour including and not limited to misuse of public office,” said TI-M.

Najib as 1MDB advisorIt also urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board, to come clean on the fund and assure the public that their interests were safeguarded.

“Hence, it is timely for the government to prove its seriousness with this issue and act in a decisive and transparent manner. Less, the perception of corruption is not a misperception,” said TI-M.

Last weekend, whistleblower website Sarawak Report claimed to have obtained documents revealing that Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, had orchestrated the 2009 joint venture between 1MDB and PetroSaudi International (PetroSaudi). It claimed Low did this so that PetroSaudi could act as a “front” for him to siphon US$700 million (RM2.5 billion) from the deal.

‎Sarawak Report’s expose has received international attention and prompted opposition politicians and anti-corruption organisations here to call for an investigation into 1MDB’s accounts.

However, 1MDB and PetroSaudi have denied any irregularities in their finances, while Najib said he would not allow anyone to misappropriate public funds in the government-owned company for personal gain.

“1MDB, as a corporate citizen, has a role to play and must exercise their professional obligations both to their client and society even though 1MDB has repeatedly stated that its finances are in order,” said TI-M today.

On Sunday, PetroSaudi denied reports that funds from 1MDB went to third parties, adding that its subsidiaries had received the entire cash for a joint-venture company, while 1MDB confirmed that it received back its investment in full from the deal, besides making a profit.

The privately-owned oil exploration and production company in a statement said that upon 1MDB’s exit, PetroSaudi had paid the Malaysian strategic investment fund in full and both parties no longer had any financial or legal relations.

1MDB’s audited accounts as at March 31, 2014, shows that the company received the US$2.3 billion and made a profit of US$488 million.

In a separate statement, 1MDB President and Group Executive Director ArulKanda, newly appointed president and group executive director of Malaysia's state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd, poses for photographs in Kuala Lumpur Kanda Kandasamy also said the firm “notes with concern” the claims reported about its business arrangements with PetroSaudi.

“1MDB exited the relationship in 2012, and received back its investment in full, with a profit of US$488 million.These facts, and all details related to this transaction, may be verified by reference to our audited accounts, which are publicly available on the Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia website,” he said.

On February 21, Arul Kanda also said the same, in response to earlier criticism about 1MDB’s joint venture with PetroSaudi.

 

 

PM dodges 1MDB scandals


March 2, 2015

PM dodges 1MDB scandals

 by @www.freemalaysiatoday.com

DAP’s Tony Pua says PM is either complicit in the company’s hanky-panky or guilty of gross negligence and incompetence in managing 1MDB.

najib-tony-puaTime to Fix 1MDB mess

Tony Pua has said that the Prime Minister cannot continue to disassociate himself from the gross failings of 1MDB in light of the current revelations detailing how the company played a role in an elaborate scam to siphon money.

He said this in response to recent documents involving a US$1billion Petrosaudi investment transaction that was exposed by the Sarawak Report and which pointed clearly towards “an elaborate scam to siphon money from 1MDB into a Swiss bank account owned by Jho Low’s private company”.

The MP for Petaling Jaya Utara said, “Even if the Prime Minister is indeed not complicit in the serious hanky-panky in the company, he is guilty of gross negligence and incompetence in managing 1MDB under his Ministry.”

Condemning Najib’s continued assertion that 1Malaysia Development Berhad was in “sound financial health” Pua pointed out three facts that were in direct contradiction to the PM’s statement namely that the company was unable to repay a RM2 billion loan without “begging” billionaire Ananda Krishnan for help; that 1MDB had requested for a RM3 billion emergency bailout fund from the Cabinet; and that 1MDB was unable to show proof that it had US$1.1 billion (RM3.9 billion) parked anonymously overseas after disposing of its Cayman investments.

“How can the Finance and Prime Minister allow the 1MDB shenanigans to sink to the current level of RM42 billion in debt while becoming practically insolvent?,” Pua asked.

He also pointed out Najib’s attempt to dismiss the Sarawak Report as being politically motivated, saying that in his triple roles as PM, Finance Minister, and Chairman of the 1MDB Board of Advisors, it was irrelevant whether this was so and that Najib was duty bound to get to the bottom of the scandal.

“I, for example, would seek to expose all corrupt activities of the ruling government to remove them during the next general elections. What is more important, is whether the documents and email communications are genuine,” Pua said.

Kanda, newly appointed president and group executive director of Malaysia's state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd, poses for photographs in Kuala Lumpur1MDB’s New Miracle Man

He added that if indeed the documents are proved to be genuine, then the government must answer for the “brazen abuse of power” and added that Najib cannot continue to distance himself from 1MDB by claiming he was not directly involved in its day-to-day operations.

Throwing his support behind DAP elder statesman Lim Kit Siang who has called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into 1MDB’s RM42 billion debt, Pua added that the move is important so the truth would come out and that the “crooks behind and abetting the scams will be punished and put behind bars”.

 

Najib’s not looking good politically, says Roger Mitton


March 1, 2015

Najib’s not looking good politically, says Roger Mitton

by The Malaysian Insider@www.themalaysianinsider.com

Criticism against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak appears to be gaining steam outside of the country, with The Myanmar Times now jumping onto the bandwagon.

In its opinion page dated February 23, the writer Roger Mitton, presented a bleak picture on the issue, describing it as a “gluey black sea of venality the likes of which has not been seen in this region since the days of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines.”

He said things are so bad that UMNO-owned newspaper, Utusan Malaysia, had to carry an editorial to try to exonerate Najib and shift the blame elsewhere.

Rosmah and Najib 1mdb

“It failed, of course,” he said, adding it was because the newspaper was arguing against facts that indicate “Najib is steadily sinking into the treacly pit of corruption and maladministration.”

Mitton said the controversy surrounding debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, as reported by the New York Times, recently also were not helping in lifting his image for the better.

Riza and Jho LowBest of Friends–Riza and Jho Low

“It is hard to truly comprehend the full magnitude of this gigantic, nepotistic malfeasance, and even the illustrious New York Times took three pages to try to do it,” he wrote. The Myanmar Times’ article also alleged that Riza, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s son, was responsible for most of the woes brought about by the 1MDB debacle, due to his association with Penang businessmen Jho Low.

“Why and how? There is no clear answer, except to recall that Najib is under the sway of Rosmah, a shopaholic wrecking ball, who shrugs off ridicule and ignores how her actions thwart her husband’s premiership,” he wrote.

Mitton went on to say that the personal damage to Najib “is piffling compared to the disastrous effect the huge 1MDB losses are having on the already fragile Malaysian economy.”

Adding on, the article said that political support for the ruling party in Malaysia was also diminishing, taking note the results in the last general elections that saw the voting pattern swaying towards opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

He said that since the failure to reverse the drop in votes experienced by his predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib has clung onto the UMNO leadership by appeasing his key support base, the Malays, “and marginalising the Chinese and Indian communities.”

Followed by the move to keep the Sedition Act and Anwar’s jailing, Mittton said “these actions signal a premier running scared.” He said that in any case, Najib’s survival may depend more on Umno elders the likes of former PM Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, and former Finance Ministers Tun Daim Zainuddin and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

“Since they have all turned against him, though, the omens are not good.” he said.

http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/things-are-not-looking-good-for-najib-says-report

 

 

‘RM2.5bil 1MDB funds sent to Jho Low’s firm’


March 1, 2015

http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/290586

‘RM2.5bil 1MDB funds sent to Jho Low’s firm’

by http://www.malaysiakini.com

Jho Low with KeysThe RM2.5 billion (US$700 million) which was listed as a loan repayment from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to Petrosaudi International (PSI) during 1MDB’s joint venture with Petrosaudi in 2009, was actually a “front” to channel the money to a company controlled by tycoon Jho Low (seen with Alicia Keys left), online news portal Sarawak Report alleged yesterday.

It claimed it had obtained confidential email exchanges and the whole joint venture agreement worth RM3.6 billion between 1MDB and Petrosaudi made in September 2009.

Last week, Sarawak Report revealed contents of the joint venture agreement which stated that 1MDB had to undertake to repay a RM2.5 billion loan that Petrosaudi had taken from its parent company, Petrosaudi International.

However, in its report yesterday, it exposed alleged email communications that revealed that Petrosaudi had agreed to act as a “front” for the money to be channeled to a foreign company allegedly controlled by Jho Low and his business associates.

The controversial Penang-born tycoon had been constantly linked to Prime MinisterRosmah and Najib 1mdb Najib Abdul Razak (right) in the past, and was alleged in the report to have acted as though he represented the PM in communications with both PSI and 1MDB chiefs.

In fact, according to the report, Jho Low and his business associates were constantly copied in all email communications regarding negotiations pertaining to the joint venture.

PetroSaudi: Emails false

Sarawak Report said that in spite of official denials, the documents showed that the entire joint venture deal was “conceived, managed and driven” by Jho Low. The report also states that 1MDB bosses were kept out of the loop, and were only given an overview of PSI’s portfolio merely days before the massive joint venture agreement was penned in London.

Malaysiakini has contacted 1MDB and PetroSaudi for a response. In a statement to The Rakyat Post, PetroSaudi said the emails are false and that the news reports are “malicious”.

Sarawak Report’s full article can be accessed here. The report was in collaboration with London’s The Sunday Times.

The Sunday Times reported that a source close to Low dismissed claims that he was a secret broker as “without merit”, because he had said this year that he gave his views to 1MDB on various matters. He had not profited personally from the fund nor has he been employed or retained by 1MDB, the source said.

Similarly, the Malaysian government told the UK newspaper that Prime Minister Najib is not involved in 1MDB’s  day-to-day operation.

“Views expressed by certain quarters concerning 1MDB should be examined in light of political motivation. However, if any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception.”

Low strikes back

Meanwhile in another development, Low has threatened to sue The Edge and its related news site The Malaysian Insider over articles on his involvement with 1MDB, the latter reported today.

According to the report, Low in a letter of demand dated February 26 pressed for the retraction of “false and defamatory assertions” in an article titled ‘Razak family concerned about inheritance talk, say siblings’ published in the news portal on February 24. Low’s lawyers also demanded the publications from writing articles of that sort in the future.

However, The Edge chief executive officer Ho Kay Tat in a note which accompanied the letter of demand published, said the group was standing by the stories written and will not cease publishing such articles.

“We would like to state here that The Edge Media Group stands by all the articles we have published about Mr Low and about 1MDB, and we will continue to publish news stories about Mr Low and about 1MDB as and when it is merited,” Ho was quoted saying.

 

 

ASTRO: Customer Unfriendly Cable TV Network


February 27, 2015

ASTRO: Customer Unfriendly Cable TV Network

by Marion Tharsis (02-26-15)@www.malaysiakini.com

Logo-Astro-01

Today, ASTRO enjoys an unwavering dominance of the cable television network  in Malaysia. Consequently, we have to follow, and accept, any implementation changes to their existing packages whenever they feel like doing it.

They no longer have the courtesy to call you to seek your acceptance or offer any explanation as why these changes need to be implemented.Their current trend of operation is, just splash the news about imminent changes on television and expect us to ‘swallow’ it.Call their customer service and you will get a ‘dumb’ reply.

I just want to highlight two recent encounters that I have been subjected to. Firstly,Ananda Krishnan ASTRO increased its high-definition channels that are included in the package I subscribe to. By doing so, I have to pay more without any consent of mine or prior formal advisory. Secondly, out of the blue, ASTRO splashed a news banner on television to advise all Sports Package subscribers that the Golf Channel will no longer be included in this package, effective February 26, 2015. Pay more – if you want channel back!

And if we wish to view this popular sport, we have to pay for it as and when we want it. Here again it, this was done without any formal advice or consultation with the subscriber.One if the main reasons why I subscribe to the Sports Package is because of this Golf Channel and now I am deprived of it.

Want it back, I have to pay more – which I think is absurd and ridiculous. Logically speaking, the cost of this package should be reduced, but this is not the case. You still pay the same amount. But then again, if monopoly exists, then we are ‘slaves’ to it, without any other choice.

I am sure there are other cable television operators who want to establish their networks in Malaysia and I think they should be given an opportunity to do so, just to allow some competition and break this monopoly.

Otherwise, ASTRO will get bolder, and change and implement according to its whims and fancies, without due respect or concern for the subscribers. As it is, we are given channels that are of no use to us, but ASTRO says it is “under the package” and you have to accept it. What a rip-off!