All Donald Trump’s Crooks


August 22,2018

By The Editorial Board

For a witch hunt, Mr. Mueller’s investigation has already bagged a remarkable number of witches. Only the best witches, you might say.–The Editorial Board–The New York Times

The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

From the start of the Russia investigation, President Trump has been working to discredit the work and the integrity of the special counsel, Robert Mueller; praising men who are blatant grifters, cons and crooks; insisting that he’s personally done nothing wrong; and reminding us that he hires only the best people.

On Tuesday afternoon, the American public was treated to an astonishing split-screen moment involving two of those people, as Mr. Trump’s former campaign chief was convicted by a federal jury in Virginia of multiple crimes carrying years in prison at the same time that his longtime personal lawyer pleaded guilty in federal court in New York to his own lengthy trail of criminality, and confessed that he had committed at least some of the crimes “at the direction of” Mr. Trump himself.

Let that sink in: Mr. Trump’s own lawyer has now accused him, under oath, of committing a felony.

Only a complete fantasist — that is, only President Trump and his cult — could continue to claim that this investigation of foreign subversion of an American election, which has already yielded dozens of other indictments and several guilty pleas, is a “hoax” or “scam” or “rigged witch hunt.”

The conviction of Paul Manafort, who ran the Trump campaign for three months in 2016, was a win for prosecutors even though jurors were unable to reach a verdict on 10 of the 18 counts against him. On the other eight, which included bank fraud, tax fraud and a failure to report a foreign bank account, the jury agreed unanimously that Mr. Manafort was guilty. He is scheduled to go on trial in a separate case next month in Washington, D.C., on charges including money laundering, witness tampering, lying to authorities and failing to register as a foreign agent. Mr. Manafort faces many decades behind bars, although he will probably serve less than that under federal sentencing guidelines.

A few hundred miles to the north, in New York City, Michael “I’m going to mess your life up” Cohen stood before a federal judge and pleaded guilty to multiple counts of bank and tax fraud as well as federal campaign-finance violations involving hush-money payments he made to women who said they’d had sex with Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen, who spent years as Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer and “fix-it guy” (his own words), was under investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, to whom Mr. Mueller referred his case. In April, F.B.I. agents raided Mr. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room looking for evidence of criminality on a number of fronts. Apparently they found it.

Image result for michael cohen trump lawyer

President Donald Trump: no doubt he has good taste –What  a storm she must have been

Mr. Cohen didn’t agree at Tuesday’s hearing to cooperate with prosecutors, but if he eventually chooses to, that could spell even bigger trouble for Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen has been involved in many of Mr. Trump’s dealings with Russia, including his aborted effort to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, and could shed light on connections between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian officials involved in the 2016 election interference.

But back to Tuesday’s news. Mr. Manafort was not an original target of the inquiry by Mr. Mueller, who was appointed in May of last year to look into possible ties between the Trump campaign and efforts by Russian government officials to interfere in the election. But Mr. Mueller’s mandate authorized him to investigate any other crimes that arose in the course of his work. It didn’t take long. As soon as he and his lawyers started sniffing around, the stench of Mr. Manafort’s illegality was overpowering.

As a longtime lobbyist and political consultant who worked for multiple Republican candidates and presidents, Mr. Manafort had a habit of lying to banks to get multimillion-dollar loans and hiding his cash in offshore accounts when tax time rolled round. In at least one case, he falsely characterized $1.5 million as a loan to avoid paying taxes on it, then later told banks that the loan had been “forgiven” so he could get another loan.

He also enriched himself by working for some of the world’s most notorious thugs and autocrats, including Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Jonas Savimbi in Angola and Mobutu Sese Seko of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He helped elect the pro-Kremlin Viktor Yanukovych as president of Ukraine, a job that earned him millions until Mr. Yanukovych was ousted from power in 2014.

Despite this mercenary history — or perhaps, more disturbingly, because of it — Donald Trump, while running on promises to clean up Washington, hired Mr. Manafort to run his presidential campaign, a job he may well have kept but for news reports that he was receiving and hiding millions of dollars from his work on behalf of Mr. Yanukovych.

What does it tell you about Mr. Trump that he would choose to lead his campaign someone like Mr. Manafort, whom even on Tuesday he called a “good man”? It tells you that Mr. Trump is consistent, and consistently contemptuous of honesty and ethics, because he has surrounded himself with people of weak, if not criminal, character throughout his career.

While the president has so far dodged questions about whether he will pardon Mr. Manafort, he’s already shown a willingness to make a mockery of the justice system with his pardons of unrepentant lawbreakers like Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Dinesh D’Souza. Last year, the president’s lawyer dangled the prospect of a pardon to lawyers for Mr. Manafort and Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s first national security adviser. If Mr. Trump were to follow through and grant clemency to Mr. Manafort, it would make his pardon of Mr. Arpaio look like the signing of the Civil Rights Act.

You’re forgiven if you’ve lost track of all the criminality, either charged or admitted, that has burst forth from Mr. Trump’s circles in the last couple years even as Mr. Trump has continued to claim that the investigation is a hoax, a pointless waste of taxpayer dollars. So here’s a brief refresher:

In addition to the prosecution of Mr. Manafort, the special counsel’s office has secured guilty pleas from multiple people, including Mr. Flynn and George Papadopoulos, a foreign policy adviser on the Trump campaign, both of whom lied to federal investigators about their communications with Russian officials.

Others have pleaded guilty to identity fraud and making false statements. Mr. Manafort’s longtime associate Rick Gates also pleaded guilty and testified against his former boss.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mueller has charged more than a dozen Russian individuals and companies for their roles in a coordinated and deceptive social-media campaign aimed at hurting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and helping Mr. Trump’s. Some Trump campaign officials were unwittingly in contact with some of these defendants.

Mr. Mueller has also charged a dozen Russian military officials with hacking and helping to release emails of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The hackers first tried to break into Mrs. Clinton’s personal servers on July 27, 2016 — the same day that Mr. Trump publicly called on Russians to do exactly that.

And he has charged Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian associate of Mr. Manafort and a suspected spy, with obstructing justice.

As Mr. Trump rages on about the unfairness of the investigation, remember that Mr. Mueller has been on the job for just 15 months. For comparison, the Watergate investigation ran for more than two years before it brought down a president and sent dozens of people to prison. The Iran contra investigation dragged on for about seven years, as did the Whitewater investigation, which resulted in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment.

Also remember we still don’t know anything about the ultimate fate of several other Trump associates who have been under Mr. Mueller’s microscope, including Roger Stone, Carter Page and Donald Trump Jr. (“If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer”).

For a witch hunt, Mr. Mueller’s investigation has already bagged a remarkable number of witches. Only the best witches, you might say.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: All the President’s Crooks.

RUU 355: The Bloody Fool Speaker Pandikar Amin !


 

February 23, 2018

RUU 355: The Bloody Fool Speaker Pandikar Amin

by Din Merican

On February13, 2018, I wrote about Tawfik Tun Dr Ismails’s case against the Speaker and secretary of the Dewan Rakyat for wrongfully allowing the tabling of a Bill by PAS chief Hadi Awang seeking to increase the sentencing powers of the Syariah Courts more famously known as the RUU355 case.

Image result for tawfik tun dr ismail

Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail claimed that Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia acted unconstitutionally by allowing the tabling of Hadi’s Motion and RUU355 without consulting the Conference of Rulers and breaching various laws and the standing orders of Parliament. This amendment would also create inequality in the law amongst Malaysians especially Muslims for purported Syariah criminal offences as the Syariah laws in the states are not uniform.

This case showed that PM Najib and UMNO were playing politics with religion and the Speaker behaved deceitfully in Parliament. See link:

https://dinmerican.wordpress.com/2018/01/13/the-constitution-is-supreme-not-speaker-parliament-pandikar-amin/

Rosli Dahlan

 

My friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, who represented Tawfik, pointed out to Judge Dato Wira Kamaludin Said that Pandikar was misleading the court and showed that the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy does not apply in Malaysia.

Lawyer Rosli revealed the abuse of parliament by the politicians to pass bad laws for political mileage without concern for the Rakyat especially Muslims. He also said that the Speaker committed treason against the Sultans by sidelining and disregarding the Rulers role to be consulted under Article 38 of the Constitution.

To avoid answering to Rosli’s charges about his treasonous behavior, Pandikar applied to strike out Tawfik’s case by claiming that as Speaker he has absolute immunity and is not answerable to the Courts.

Speaker Pandikar arrogantly defended his deceitful ways by saying -“If you have power, you are powerful. If you don’t use that power, you are a bloody fool!”

On Thursday afternoon February 22, 2018, Judge Kamaludin delivered his verdict that Parliament is not supreme and that the Speaker of Parliament is also subject to the Court’s jurisdiction.

The Judge said -“I agree with En Rosli and in my opinion, the court has jurisdiction to hear this case,” and directed Pandikar to file his affidavits. “I want affidavits to be filed in quick. We cannot keep Parliament waiting,” he said.

By these firm words, Judge Kamaludin has shown to Speaker Pandikar that he is not above the law. Pandikar has been put into his proper place and is now forced to eat the humble pie that he is not as powerful as he thinks he is. Judge Kamaludin is showing to Pandikar that a speaker who thinks he is powerful is actually the ultimate bloody fool!

Pandikar who had arrogantly refused to answer to the affidavits by Tawfik is now being treated like a delinquent child who refused to hand up his homework. Judge Kamaludin is now chiding Pandikar that he will be punished if he doesn’t file his affidavit.

Once again my friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan is taking to task public functionaries who misbehaved and abused their powers regardless even if he is the Speaker of Parliament. I salute him for his bravery. Rosli had previously sued Attorney General Gani Patail and successfully moved the court to rule that Gani’s does not have absolute unbridaled powers as Public Prosecutor.

The RUU355 case is significant because a High Court Judge is brave enough to instill discipline even in the Speaker of Parliament that there must be respect and compliance with the Constitution. It is significant because a member of the public is suing the Speaker of Parliament not to sideline the Rulers in matters that involve public policy. This case symbolises the people defending their rulers. Daulat Tuanku!

Thank you Tawfik, thank you Rosli for showing us that Pandikar is the ultimate bloody fool!

https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/bahasa/s/39255/

Former UMNO MP can challenge Dewan Rakyat Speaker on RUU355, court rules – https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/39252 – Updated: 22 Feb 2018 3:58PM – The Malaysian Insight

The Big THHE-Yinson Scam


February 7, 2018

The Big THHE-Yinson Scam

by Din  Merican

Image result for Tabung Haji-Yinson ScamThe Insolvent TH Heavy Engineering Berhad (THHE)

 

On January 10, 2018,  the Court of Appeal granted a stay to GMOS (a bumiputra Sarawak company) vs THHE, the insolvent Tabung Haji Company which wanted to sell out to a chinese company Yinson Bhd.

This is the background story about how this sell out was disguised as a scheme of arrangement to scam a bumi company:

Image result for Tabung Haji Chairman Azeez Rahim
              Chairman of Tabung Haji Mamak (Indian Muslim) Azeez Rahim

Four Year Ago, Chairman of Tabung Haji the Mamak (Indian Muslim Azeez Rahim, made Tabung Haji Heavy Engineering (THHE) induced  Global Marine Offshore Services (GMOS), a Sarawak bumi company to partner it in a company called Flowtech in an oil and gas business. There were 2 parts to this project:

a)  buying a FPSO vessel called  DP1 which GMOS had to put in RM60m ; and

b) an EPCIC Layang2  contract in Sarawak that PETRONAS would award via Nippon which THHE promised was so lucrative that GMOS would become overnight a big bumi Oil & Gas player.

GMOS believed THHE and put it in that money. That was the beginning of screwing this bumi company. The vessel project  was loss making and became a burden to both GMOS and THHE that bankrupted THHE and made it a PN17 company.

Azeez then planned to get a Chinese company Yinson Bhd to appear as a white knight by taking over THHE business. Yinson paid Azeez a big bribe to allow Yinson to buy over the lucrative EPCIC Layang2 project and leave the DP1 vessel project to be shouldered solely by GMOS. This was disguised as a scheme of arrangement to be sanctioned by the Court.

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image1

Yinson paid pittance so that THHE can then use the money to be seen as paying some 400 petty creditors 20cts to RM 1.0.

Yinson needed the EPCIC project badly as all this while their business has been overseas mainly in Vietnam. It is very strange indeed to be a listed company in Malaysia but without any track record in oil and gas to show off to your peers.

THHE virtually surrendered every detail of the Layang2 EPCIC project  lock stock and barrel. The whole entire board of THHE was as usual, clueless to the scheming of Mamak Azeez.

Yinson and Azeez cleverly proposed a private deal to Nippon for Yinson to use its own dormant vessel 4Rainbow rather than the original DP1 Vessel intended for the Layang2 EPCIC. Both Aziz and Yinson made a big kill from this deal.

This backdoor acquisition disguised as a white knight rescue gave Yinson the opening to enter the Sarawak O&G business and suck out another Sarawak resource  without any participation from any of Sarawak local company. No bumi in Malaysia and not at all in Sarawak will get any piece of this cake. Yinson will award  all the works to be done outside Malaysia.

Image result for nor badli munawirDatuk Nor Badli Munawir Mohamad Alias Lafti, former Chief Executive Officer of TH Heavy Engineering Bhd, which is a Tabung Haji subsidiary, was charged in the Sessions Court here today with five counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), involving more than RM2.5 million.

 

Congratulations to Azeez as he had in the meantime been able to blame all of  Tabung Haji’s and THHE’s losses and problems on the previous bumi CEO and caused CEO Datuk Nor Badli Munawir Mohamad Alias Lafti to be charged by MACC using A-G Apandi Ali for allegedly abuse of power whereas it is a fixed up charge against Nor Badli.

Related image                                        Malaysia’s First Lady Rosmah Mansor and Mamak Azeez, Chairman of Tabung Haji

As Azeez is close to Rosmah, naturally all these have the blessings of PM Najib to allow a direct negotiation contract just to rescue THHE which ad earlier bought the vessel  (DP1). PM Najib is doing the exact same thing as he did in 1MDB and FELDA.

Image result for the edge paper malaysia on Yinson

 

The Edge, in a fake news article called Yinson as the “white knight”, who is rescuing THHE whereas in reality Yinson is screwing a Sarawak bumi company and THHE.

The Court of Appeal saw this as Yinson eating all the meat and leaving only the bones to GMOS and THHE and blocked the Scheme of Arrangement on  January 10, 2018.

Again another bumi company  is made to be the fall guy and the corporate plunderer Chinese Yinson is hailed as a white knight.

But in the last 2 weeks, Yinson has been using the media to rig the share market by posting fabulous stories that the Scheme of arrangement and novation of DP1  will not be affected  by the Court of Appeal stay order. Yinson was even bold enough to state that the stay order was just temporary and will be removed shortly.

Now how would Yinson know about the outcome of a case when the appeal is not yet heard? How can Yinson be so confident that they will win the appeal?

Image result for chief justice raus sharif

              Attorney-General Apandi Ali (left) and Chief Justice Raus Sharif

From the grapevine, apparently Yinson has managed to get Chief Justice Raus to fix the case earlier thsn its actual dare before a selected panel of judges. Why would the Chief Justice do that?

Already the Bar Council is challenging Chief Justice Raus on his illegal appointment Surely, it is unbefitting for the Chief Justice to meddle in this way. But this Chief Justice doesn’t care whatever allegations are made against him.

Something is really smelling fishy in the Palace of Justice. Justice hurried is justice harried!

 

Read this:

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/01/25/th-heavy-receive-rm374m-fpso-novation-agreement-yinson

 

http://www.thesundaily.my/node/518227

http://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/yinson-takes-over-layang-fpso-project-thhe

 

 

Malaysia: The Constitution is Supreme not Speaker Parliament Pandikar Amin !


January 13, 2018

The Constitution is Supreme not Speaker Parliament Pandikar Amin !

by Din Merican in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Image result for Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia

Speaker of Dewan Rakyat or  a Buffoon?

On Thursday  January 11, 2018, I noted that the media in Malaysia reported about an interesting incident in Court where a former Member of Parliament — the son of the late Deputy Prime Minister, Tun Dr.  Ismail Abdul Rahman— filed a suit against the Speaker and Secretary of the Dewan Rakyat for wrongfully tabling a Bill by PAS Chief Hadi Awang (“Hadi’s Motion”) seeking to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (“RUU355”).

It was reported that Tawfik Tun Dr Ismail (pic below) had challenged in court that Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia committed contempt against the Sultans by playing politics in Parliament when he allowed the tabling of Hadi’s Motion and RUU355. This was unconstitutional as the Conference of Rulers, as the Heads of Islam, had not been consulted with earlier in breach of Art. 38(2) and Art 38(4) of the Federal Constitution.Tawfik also contended that the RUU355 itself is in violation of Article 8 of the Federal Constitution and would create inequality in the law amongst Malaysians especially Muslims for purported Syariah criminal offences.

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Tawfik  Tun Dr. Ismail

Hadi’s Motion had caused a great deal of unrest and showed it was nothing more than a political game. Sometime in March 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Zahid Hamidi announced that UMNO had a pact with PAS and the RUU355 will be tabled by him as a Government’s Bill. Subsequently, Prime Minister Najib Razak said that BN component parties were against it and that it will not be a Government’s Bill. Zahid lost face and got played out by Najib. Serves him right for trying to play politics with religion!

Image result for azalina othman said

 

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Butch Minister Azalina Othman Said (2018)

I recalled there was widespread discontent and anger on April 6, 2017 when Speaker Pandikar played a trick on the opposition. After tabling Hadi’s Motion, the butch Minister Azalina Othman proposed that the House sitting be adjourned. Pandikar then quickly ended the session and ran out to the calls of “Takut” and “Ayam”. That was how RUU 355 came to be tabled as first reading in Parliament without any debate – by trickery.

Such is the quality of this cowardly Speaker who goes by the name of Pandikar but who behaved like a pondan. When asked to explain his unusual conduct, Pandikar tried to show he is smart when he answered -“If you have power, you are powerful. If you don’t use that power, you are a bloody fool!”

Again in court, Pandikar did not dare fight Tawfik. Instead he asked the A-G Chambers to strike out Tawfik’s suit. Pandikar claimed that as Speaker he has absolute power and is not subject to the courts by claiming Parliamentary supremacy.

Not to be fooled by Pandikar’s cowardly ways, my friend Lawyer Rosli Dahlan, who represented Tawfik, pointed out that Pandikar was misleading the court by relying extensively on English cases on parliamentary supremacy and privilege. He showed that the doctrine of Parliamentary supremacy does not apply in Malaysia as it does in the UK. In Malaysia, even the Speaker is subject to the Constitution and the Court is the bulwark to ensure that the Speaker does not abuse his powers.

The most interesting part about Tawfik’s case is that all previous lawsuits were to strike down bad laws by Parliament. This is the first time that the Speaker is being sued for abusing parliamentary privileges and claiming he is above the constitution and the Court. I hope Judge Dato Wira Kamaludin Said will deliver the correct decision in law and put this Speaker Pandikar in his proper place.

 

The RUU355 case filed by Tawfik and argued by Lawyer Rosli reveals the abuse of parliament by the politicians to pass bad laws for political mileage without concern for the Rakyat especially Muslims. It also shows treason by the Speaker by his disloyalty and disregard to the Conference of Rulers by flexing his muscle that he is more powerful than the Malay Rulers, when he arrogantly  announced :

“If you have power, you are powerful. If you don’t use that power, you are a bloody fool.”

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan

I have just managed to obtain a copy of Rosli’s written rebuttal to the A-G Chambers’ argument which shows that the Speaker of Parliament is also subject to the Court’s jurisdiction. I would be pleased to share it with you who are legal eager beavers if required.

From the grapevine, I heard that Rosli had the assistance of Emeritus Professor  Dato Dr Shad Faruqi, the eminent constitutional expert of Malaysia. I whatsapp Rosli to ask if it was true that the most eminent academia in Malaysia is supporting him. As usual, Rosli is tight-lipped about the cases he handles. However, his cryptic answer was very revealing. He said – “Isn’t it good for the country if they are behind me as they see this as ultimate Patriotism in fighting for the Rulers , the Constitution and the Rule of Law.”

I hope Rosli and Judge Kamaludin will show to Speaker Pandikar who is the ultimate bloody fool!

Also read:

The plaintiff’s written rebuttal

 

Amazing Malaysia keeps its most corrupt Prime Minister in power


August 4, 2017

Amazing Malaysia keeps its most corrupt Prime Minister in power

– http://www.channelnewsasia.com/

Image result for Malaysia's Scorpene Submarines

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak faced renewed questions Thursday (Aug 3) over a 2002 sale of submarines to his country after a close associate was charged in France over alleged kickbacks.

Najib, then Defence Minister, oversaw the deal worth nearly €1 billion (US$1.18 billion) to buy two Scorpene-class submarines and one Agosta-class submarine from French naval dockyards unit DCN, which is linked to French defence group Thales.

Abdul Razak Baginda advised Najib at the time. An investigation into the deal was launched in 2010 in response to a complaint from Malaysian rights group Suaram, and investigators allege Abdul Razak received kickbacks.

He was charged in July in France with “active and passive complicity in corruption” and “misappropriation of corporate assets”, a French judicial source told AFP this week.

He denies wrongdoing, saying in a statement after the news broke that he had “not committed any crime of corruption or breached any laws in the matter”.

Image result for Malaysia's Scorpene SubmarinesSUARAM’s call for accountability for this serious crime of corruption has fallen on deaf ears despite its continuous effort to demand answers from the Government of Malaysia. The insistence of our government leaders that French law cannot reach them, speaks volumes of the ignorance coupled with a lack of political will to perform its obligations under the UNCAC (UN Convention Against Corruption)

 

On Thursday Suaram, in a joint statement with NGO The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism, urged Malaysian authorities to take action.

“It is no longer tenable for the Malaysian authorities to dismiss the Scorpene deal as above board and keep silent on the damning developments in France,” the statement said.

 

“Najib was the Defence Minister that signed on the contract then – we urge for him to answer for what happened then, and what would be the steps taken by Malaysian institutions.”

NAJIB UNDER INTENSE SCRUTINY: AS TWIN DEBACLES 1MDB & SCORPENES COLLIDE, WORLD RECOILS AT HOW MALAYSIA CAN HAVE SUCH A CORRUPT PM

Malaysia’s Most Corrupt Prime Minister Najib Razak remains in power,despite scandals. He is the country’s Houdini

A spokesman in Najib’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Najib has previously denied any link to the graft allegations, rejecting them as a politically motivated smear by the opposition.

As part of the deal DCN agreed to pay €30 million to Thales’ Asian unit, Thales International Asia (Thint Asia).

The investigation revealed that another company, Terasasi, whose main shareholder was Abdul Razak, received an equivalent sum for what was billed as consultancy work, but which investigators believe was really a front for kickbacks.

Under the French legal system, a suspect is charged if there is “serious” proof of wrongdoing. The case is examined by an investigating magistrate, who has the power to decide either that there is no case to answer, or to send the matter for trial in court.

The person who has been charged will almost certainly be interviewed by the magistrate investigating the case.

The affair emerged spectacularly in 2006, when Abdul Razak’s Mongolian mistress – who was said to have demanded a payoff for working as a language translator in the deal – was shot dead and her body blown up with plastic explosives near Kuala Lumpur. He was later cleared of abetting the murder.

 

The Ethically-Blighted Prime Minister of Malaysia–Najib Razak


June 19, 2017

The Ethically-Blighted Prime Minister of Malaysia–Najib Razak

by Dr.M. Bakri Musa, Morgan-Hill, California

Image result for Najib Razak and Rosmah Mansor

As for MO1, his spouse and stepson, they are beyond shame. With the millions if not billions they have already expropriated, they can handle the setback. Malaysians however, would be saddled for generations with 1MDB’s humongous debt. Quite a legacy for the son of the late Tun Razak! As for the Tun, what a legacy to have bequeathed Malaysia with his ethically-blighted son.–M.Bakri Musa

The dismissive attitude of Malaysian officials to the latest US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) civil forfeiture lawsuit targeting expensive assets allegedly acquired with funds illicitly siphoned from 1MDB is misplaced. Their stance is an embarrassing display of gross ignorance.

Yes, civil lawsuits in America are as common as mushrooms after a rainfall. This DOJ action however, is the largest (in dollar value) such forfeitures to date. This second set of lawsuits targeted assets allegedly given to Hollywood celebrities, as well as to the spouse of “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1). The two categories are separate though the latter believe that she is in the same class as the former.

Najib apologists and enablers never fail to point out with unconcealed smugness that the defendants to the lawsuits are not individuals, specifically Najib or his associates and relatives, rather those assets.

That is right, but such sophistry reveals a fundamental ignorance of the American judicial system. Those targeted assets do not exist in vacuo; someone or somebody owns them. They in effect are the defendants.

By targeting those assets and not their owners, DOJ is spared the task of identifying their rightful owners. That can be an arduous and expensive task, what with multiple shell companies involved in dizzying number of foreign jurisdictions. Instead, all DOJ has to do is wait for the owners to come out of the woodwork to identify themselves and lay claim to those assets by challenging the lawsuit. They have to, otherwise they would lose those assets, or at least their share.

One of those owners is Jho Low. He claimed to have bought those assets with his family’s wealth. That at least was believable as he came from a wealthy clan in Penang. Sure enough, his family’s assorted trusts too have contested the lawsuit from faraway New Zealand!

Image result for Reza Aziz and J Lo

Then there is one Reza Aziz, identified as the “stepson of MO1.” Where did this son of a nondescript Malaysian army officer get his wealth? From his mother, the daughter of my parent’s contemporary as a village school teacher in Kuala Pilah? Visit her dilapidated ancestral home back in my kampong, and her current flamboyant lifestyle today would make you puke. As for Reza’s stepfather Najib Razak, that man had spent his entire adult life in government, with its measly pay.

Reza Aziz concocted the idea that the money (some hundred million!) was a “gift” from a benevolent Saudi Sheik. Even the wealthiest corpulent Sheik would not be so extravagant with his favorite toy-boy, yet this Reza Aziz character wants those seasoned DOJ prosecutors to believe his story! Even his American accountants did not believe him.

One other owner has also come forward. Hollywood celebrity Leonardo DiCaprio has not only surrendered the gifts he had received “from the parties named in the civil complaint” but went further and cooperated with DOJ investigators. That cannot be good news for either Jho Low or Reza Aziz.

Any bets whether any of the other “owners,” specifically the alleged recipient of that pink diamond, MO1’s spouse, would return their gifts? It is worth pondering whose actions better reflect the forgiving spirit of Ramadan, hers or DiCaprio’s?

Najib supporters trivialize the DOJ’s lawsuit, citing its lack of “action” after its first filing last year as proof of its political intent. To them, these series of forfeiture lawsuits are yet another albeit more sophisticated American attempt at regime change.  Such commentaries reveal a pathetic lack of the basic understanding of the US justice system.

This asset forfeiture is a civil lawsuit. Unlike criminal ones where the axiom “justice delayed, justice denied” is adhered to, civil suits can and do drag on for years. They go to trial only when all parties are ready, and all extraneous issues as with ownership claims settled. The fact that these forfeiture lawsuits drag on should not be misinterpreted in any way.

There is also the possibility that criminal charges would be filed against specific individuals during the discovery or the trial.

There is only one certainty. Once a lawsuit is filed, those assets are effectively tied up. They cannot be sold, mortgaged, or altered in any way without the court’s consent. DOJ has in effect total control of those assets, meaning, their de facto owner.

These forfeiture lawsuits will not be settled out of court. Those prosecutors have a point to prove, and with unlimited resources to pursue it. That reality has prompted owners like DiCaprio to cooperate with DOJ.

This will not be like a Malaysian trial where prosecutors could be illicitly paid off or where defense lawyers openly brag about having judges in their (lawyer’s) back pockets. The defendants have hired some of the best legal minds including those who had once worked in DOJ and had successfully prosecuted many high profile kleptocrats. It will be far from a walk in the park for the DOJ lawyers.

DOJ does have something in its favor. In a civil suit, unlike a criminal trial, the burden of proof is lower, only the “preponderance of evidence” and not “beyond reasonable doubt.” The burden of proof also shifts from the plaintiff to the defendant. Meaning, the owners have to prove that the funds they used to purchase those assets were untainted. It would be very difficult to convince an American jury that a Middle Eastern sheik would willingly part away with hundreds of millions of dollars to a Malay boy no matter how pretty he looks, for nothing in return.

Regardless of the outcome, this trial would expose to the world all the sordid ugly details of the 1MDB shenanigans. Once those are out, not many would be proud to call themselves Malaysians. They would be downright ashamed for having elected a leader with such unbounded avarice, and then letting him get away with it for so long.

Image result for Najib Razak and Tun Razak

As for MO1, his spouse and stepson, they are beyond shame. With the millions if not billions they have already expropriated, they can handle the setback. Malaysians however, would be saddled for generations with 1MDB’s humongous debt. Quite a legacy for the son of the late Tun Razak! As for the Tun, what a legacy to have bequeathed Malaysia with his ethically-blighted son.