Malaysia’s No. 1 Kleptocrat and Crook arrested


July 3, 2018

Malaysia’s No. 1 Kleptocrat and Crook  arrested

https://edition.cnn.com/2018/07/03/asia/razak-malaysia-arrest-intl/index.html

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We Malaysians rejoice at Najib’s Arrest today–Justice will be done

(CNN)Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was arrested Tuesday, according to Malaysian state media Bernama. Bernama cites the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which has been investigating billions of state funds that went missing while Najib was in power.

Last week Malaysian Police said they had seized $225 million in luxury handbags, jewelry, cash and goods from six properties linked to the former leader.
The goods were seized as part of the investigation into the sprawling scandal related to 1MDB, a state investment vehicle from which Najib was accused of siphoning off billions of dollars.He has denied any wrongdoing.
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Najib, whose government was plagued by scandal, was soundly defeated in parliamentary elections in May. Veteran politician Mahathir Mohamad came out of retirement to lead a coalition that challenged and defeated the incredibly unpopular Najib.
According to an investigation by the US Justice Department, Malaysian financier Jho Low used $1.3 million of funds misappropriated from 1MDB to buy 27 different 18-carat gold necklaces and bracelets for the wife of someone listed in the complaint as “Malaysia Official 1.” That official has been widely reported to be Najib.
The US is currently seeking to recover around $540 million misappropriated from the 1MDB fund, with more than $1.7 billion of assets subject to forfeiture under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
Some of those assets include profits from the Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which was financed by a company associated with 1MDB, as well as properties linked to Low and others.
Mahathir, who succeeded Najib as Prime Minister in May, has promised to hold his former protege accountable.

 

Dr. Ramesh Chander Praises Malaysian Finance Minister for early statement on National Debt


July 2, 2018

Dr. Ramesh Chander Praises Malaysian Finance Minister for early statement on National Debt

https://blog.limkitsiang.com/2018/07/02/r-chander-first-malaysian-chief-statistician-1963-1977-praises-guan-eng-for-early-statement-on-national-debt-and-stresses-urgency-of-coherent-plan-to-manage-malaysias-public-sector-debt/

R. Chander, Malaysian Chief Statistician (1963-1977) praises Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for early statement on national debt and stresses urgency of coherent plan to manage Malaysia’s public sector debt.

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I  received an expert opinion on Malaysia’s public sector debt by Dr. R. Chander, the first  Chief Statistician of (1963-1977), who went on to serve as the Senior Adviser to the World Bank’s Chief Economist-Vice President from 1977 to 1996. Upon retirement from the Bank, he served as international adviser to multiple international agencies and governments.

Dr. Chander said he was encouraged by the speed with which the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government had come to grips with the most pressing issues and praised the Finance Minister, Lim Guan Eng for making an early statement on Malaysia’s debt situation.

Image result for Najib Razak robs Malaysia

Najib Razak caught right handed by the FBI for stealing Malaysian people’s money. But he says it is a donation from the Saudi Royal Family

He said: “This was most timely indeed and most astute: it sent a strong signal to markets and had a calming effect; it told the electorate the mess that PH had inherited.

“At the same time it sent a strong message that the debt situation would impede the implementation of several of the electoral promises.

“Concurrently it provided a rationale for the cancellation/suspension of several mega projects that were to be financed by loans – terms of which were rather unfavorable to Malaysia.

“A good side effect was the call to patriotism that was brought out by the launch of the Harapan Fund!” The question now is: Where do we go from here?

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In his opinion piece, which I attached below, he stressed the urgency of coming up with a coherent and sound plan to manage Malaysia’s public sector debt.

[Media Statement by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 2nd July 2018]

The Confessions of Liar


June 26, 2018

The Confessions of Liar

by Thor Kah Hoong

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for najib razak i am not a crook

 

COMMENT | Not so long ago, Najib Abdul Razak was insisting that everything was fine with 1MDB.

Now the narrative is, as my Malay security guard friend put it this morning, “Sekarang buat tak tau” (Now he plays ignorant). His assertion of innocence has aroused a chorus of “liar.”

Leaving aside Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s riposte that his signature on multiple documents give the lie to his claim that he was kept in the dark about the movement of 1MDB money, the best thing I can say for his interview with Reuters is that he confessed to being a dumbass.

The management and board of 1MDB didn’t tell him.When asked if he was accusing them, throwing them under the bus, he trotted out the meaningless phrase – “as a general principle” – they should have told him.

What general principle? Did they or didn’t they tell you? What did the chairman of the financial advisory board of 1MDB do? Wait to be advised instead of advising?

To extend the analogy of the bus, I hope those shoved under it will be spilling their guts.That prospect has prompted Najib to trot out quickly an “I-said-no-such-thing” disclaimer.

So what did he say? A fuller explanation will be forthcoming… I suppose after his media team has figured out how to salvage the situation with another verbal pretzel.

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Compounding his confession of ignorance, Najib revealed an equally cavalier, blithe unconcern about the source of the millions, billions flowing into his account.

The power of attorney was in somebody’s hands. How gullibleI would advise him not to ride to the rescue of widows of ex-presidents of Nigeria who have died of cancer, or young women promising to disrobe for the camera after he did so.

Adding to his bad luck, Nik Faizal Ariff Kamil, the man in question, is on the run. Poor Najib. No witness to testify to his ignorance.

He assumed the RM2.6 billion came from the Saudi king. Didn’t think it would be from 1MDB.

What, no thank you phone call to the king? “Yo bro, thanks for the donation. Didn’t expect such a generous donation to influence the course of elections in this country. When can you come for a round of golf?”

Great, the country’s former Finance Minister confesses that he had no head for figures, that he was a clueless, gullible dumbass.And he wants absolution?

Obviously, he still has a hearing problem and can’t hear the people.The jury, much of the people, has decided on his guilt. He is lucky. It is unlikely the government will allow kangaroo courts. A bit of a shame. Would speed things up.

Now the people will just have to be patient while the wheels of justice slowly grind to a verdict, with the inevitable consequent appeals.

‘Pump and dump’

In the interview, Najib expressed pride in the film producing career of his stepson Riza Aziz.

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The Wolf of Wall Street is one Scorsese movie I didn’t take to. The arc of its narrative was predictable – conmen believing they were immune as money kept pouring in; a piling on of excess; the house of cards collapsing when the authorities come calling.

I got nothing from the predictable story, but Najib could have taken it as a warning.

The film was based on the memoir of Jordan Belfort. Losing his job as stockbroker in a Wall Street crash, he winds up in an outfit flogging cheap junk shares.

There, Belfort developed his successful scam – “pump-and-dump” – convince the gullible that the rock-bottom shares are about to take off. This pumps up the price of the share. Dump it when suckers rush in.

Instead of drawing public opprobrium, a media expose of his methods, attracted a flood of applications for jobs.

It’s party-time, in the office, on a luxury yacht – drugs, prostitutes, buy, spend, be lavish, no need to worry about money, more coming in.

Predictably, excess attracted attention, and the delusion that the law could not touch them led to insider trading which led to the SEC and FBI opening files on the company.

Belfort smuggled cash into Switzerland using his wife and the in-laws of a friend. He lost access to the money. His friends turned on him to get reduced charges and sentences for themselves, and Belfort spent three years in prison.

Fiction mirroring life.

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The Joke is on you, Mr. Najib Razak–Sungei  Buloh or Kajang is waiting for you

A divergence would be at the end of the film shows Belfort having a successful career conducting courses on selling. Najib should ask his media team to see if Belfort’s course material is available online. Might help.

There was a scene in the movie (actually two of them if my memory is correct) where Leonardo DiCaprio (Belfort) upends a prostitute, lays a line of coke, and snorts both lines.(I hope you know what I mean. I struggled to find words suitable for this family portal, and I was not sure ‘camel’s toe’ would spare me from being savaged by irate feminists, even if I made reference to National Geographic and Animal Planet.)

Wow, 1MDB money, the PM’s stepson made this movie.

If my friends in Pakatan Harapan weren’t such moral folks and would have been aghast at the idea of gutter politics, I would have suggested they contact a pirate DVD organisation (cheaper and the legal one will have the juicy scenes bit/byte out), and distribute it.

Sex, drugs and rock-and-roll – would have won Harapan a few more Malay votes.


THOR KAH HOONG is a veteran journalist.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Handling 1MDB Cash and other Assets: An Opinion


 

June 24, 2018

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Handling 1MDB Cash and other Assets: An Opinion

by Sarawak Report

The United States, Switzerland and Singapore have been at the forefront of seizures of illegal assets from 1MDB, which attracted the attention of the Malaysian people sufficiently for them to vote out their government and elect a new leadership that has made the retrieval of those assets a priority.

Very well and good.  The mechanism by which the governments of those countries return these assets to the people of Malaysia will hopefully be as expeditious as possible and will represent a huge step forward in global goodwill and cooperation, given the principles of decency behind those seizures and the man hours and foreign tax dollars that went in to capturing back all that cash.

Malaysians have every reason to be truly grateful to the foreign investigators, who played their part in netting the 1MDB billions, particularly since the case was so ‘cutting edge’ that it would have been extremely easy to take no notice. Australia, for example, has played little proactive part in hunting misappropriations by Najib’s sick regime and nor so far has Britain.

Indeed, it seems likely that 1MDB will go down as a test case in asset seizure, which will set principles for the future.  Previously, it generally took the removal of a tyrant for asset tracing to swing in motion; Prince Jeffrey of Brunei and the Marcos family of the Philippines had first to be ejected and for the governments themselves to demand restitution.

However, in the blatant case of 1MDB, these foreign law enforcers acted according to the principles of money laundering legislation in advance of any requests from the then government of Malaysia.

That was big progress for ordinary people against power abusers and that progress needs to continue, world wide.

What About Other Third Party Assets?

It means that, goodwill prevailing, the United States will be in a position, together with Switzerland and Singapore, to send back without too much trouble a few billion ringgit to help the new Finance Minister sleep better through his awful experience of taking over Najib’s department.

However, there is clearly far more money outstanding. What now has to be asked is to what extent massive global institutions – primarily the banks involved in this disgraceful heist – will find themselves ruled by the same concience as their country hosts?

Goldman Sachs (GSI), for example, took $600 million dollars in commission for three bond issues totalling $6,5 billion for 1MDB, that any twenty year old could have spotted as suspicious.  Of course GSI is populated only with the most enormously clever people (which is why they expect to be exponentially rewarded) which leaves one wondering why this top banker in the world failed along with others to spot the flaws in deals that netted so much cash?

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It can hardly be a coincidence that it was recently reported that Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for the GSI link man and Malaysian national Roger Ng, who acted as the key contact point for the new South East Asia boss, Tim Leissner (featured above with celebrity wife Kimora Lee Simmons) but then resigned from the bank after questions started over the vast 1MDB commissions.

Nor can it be a coincidence that Goldman sacked Leissner once Sarawak Report and others  had thrown light upon the matter, owimg to an alleged unauthorised reference for Jho Low.

So, where does this go next?  Because, very large bonuses indeed permeatted the higher echelons of this bank following the influx of the $600 million from these questionable bond deals.

Will law enforcers include money that went to third parties in this misappropriation of 1MDB cash?  Alternatively, will GSI and other banks and big businesses caught up in receiving money from 1MDB perhaps volunteer to regurgitate those gross bonuses in favour of causes such as health and education in Malaysia?

The Hunter and the Hunted


June 23, 2018

The Hunter and the Hunted

by R.Nadeswaran@www.malaysiakini.com

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R.Nadeswaran–The Malaysian Investigative Journalist

COMMENT | The terms – felon, conman, outlaw and crook – are only applicable upon conviction in a court of law. Until then, if he had attempted to cover his misdemeanours and delinquencies, he remains a dissembler or fibber. If through a series of explanations which cross the thick line between offering an excuse and telling an untruth, he remains a prevaricator, fabricator or in much simpler language – a liar.

But those in the relentless hunt for the truth are not likely to give up until they reach their goal. The hunted will also not ease his unyielding attempts to avoid the goal. (To the uninitiated, “goal” is a form of an enclosure which was also an archaic  term for “jail”.)

While the hunted tries to wriggle out of his self-inflicted woes, those who had previously sought and received a share of the spoils – from chunks to crumbs – seem to have jumped the sinking ship. Others have decided to fight it out like lions and tigers for control of their remaining territory.

The man who brought in the druids, shamans and oracles to offer “protection” has abandoned the hunted too. The prayers and chanting for all the wrongs and sins of the hunted, his wife and the family, have ceased.

This man himself is of soiled character. He was the chauffeur until he “stole” the boss’ wife and moved up to hob-nob with the Joneses. He brought the soothsayers from all parts of the world in looking forward to monetary rewards.

He was not disappointed. Several government contracts came his way. Unfortunately, through bad business practices and in some cases arrogance because of his links with the hunted, his empire collapsed. Now, the man is on the run with six bodyguards in tow leaving a trail of creditors – from small-time contractors to financial institutions. In the past, when creditors tuned up at his door, his riposte was threatening: “I will let loose my bulldogs on you.”

If until May 9 he was untouchable, the banks have now moved in demanding repayment of millions in loans. How he is going to get out of the mess is anyone’s guess. But then, would you be disappointed or surprised if he joins the hunter and share the dark secrets of the hunted in return for freedom?

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Then there’s another man who could walk in and out of the any of the several mansions belonging to the hunted. Having been short-changed in some deals, he decided to squeal – identifying the many shady characters that participated, partook or offered advice on the injudiciousness and indiscretion.

The shady lawyers who were instrumental in the midnight meeting where the decimation of senior government officials was discussed are considering various options. When the future of the then MACC Chief and the then Attorney-General was debated, the passive one suggested that they be asked to resign honourably. But the more aggressive one banged the table and insisted on an immediate purge.

“Show them no mercy. Send them to the slaughter house,” the hunted and his siblings, who co-acted as advisors, were told. In a reversal of roles, they just followed thy servant’s command. The days of these men of the law making headlines are over. They have retreated into their cocoons and even the slightest grunt or groan, if heard by the hunter or by the hunted, will mean trouble.

Writing on the wall

Many read the writing on the wall and have exited via the back door while others are waiting to be shown the door. In both instances, they have been and will walk down a creaky and inflexible staircase.

Others who handled finances and were part of the thievery have conveniently “migrated” to neighbouring countries. But their freedom is not likely to last long. The long arm of the law will get them.

The supply of ‘dedak’ or animal feed to many has been cut. With the hunted’s coffers drying up and with the cash in the condominium taken away for safekeeping, there’s no more automated teller machine (ATM) dishing out money like Smarties or M&Ms from a vending machine.

Already, some have begun to sing like canaries awaiting some form of amnesty, reprieve or forgiveness. But no one is in the mood to forgive and forget and move on. This has become an overused cliché – most recently repeated by the hunted but rejected by the hunter.

The time has come for the hunted to pay his dues. His guilt will be proven and he will join a long line of hunters who became the hunted. No one is going to show mercy or have any sympathy because the level of imprudence and thievery are inexcusable.

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When citizen’s funds have been misused and their personal freedom and rights have been impeded or trampled upon, there’s no room for any option or discretion. Once indicted, the iron gates are going to be clanged shut, padlocked and the keys kept in the hunter’s custody for a long, long time. It will be a deterrent for those who cannot control his greed and or his wife.

She may live happily ever after knowing that some of the ill-gotten gains will remain untouched by the hunter – for her to enjoy. After all, finding another soul mate (she’s experienced in this) will never be a problem with all the dosh that she is flushed with.


R NADESWARAN is a veteran journalist but has decided to turn storyteller for a change. It may not have been a parable but this story of the hunter and the hunted will certainly put the fear into the few who have been putting their hands in the till. Comments: citizen.nades22@gmail.com.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

1MDB case must be watertight, says Malaysia’s Mahathir


June 21, 2018

1MDB case must be watertight, says Malaysia’s Mahathir 

 

As prime suspect – and defeated Prime Minister – Najib Razak holidays in Langkawi, Malaysia’s new leader says it is better to build an indisputable case than be swayed by populist sentiment into hasty action.

By Zuraidah Ibrahim/ Bhavan Jaipragas

http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2151474/1mdb-probe-needs-time-be-watertight-malaysias-mahathir-calls-cool

The Malaysian government is taking time to build a watertight case in the 1MDB financial scandal and not be swayed by populist sentiment, according to Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

Najib Razak: prime suspect in the 1MDB financial scandal. Photo: Xinhua

His predecessor Najib Razak is the prime suspect under investigation and has been banned from leaving the country. This week, Najib’s decision to go on holiday to the resort island of Langkawi – which coincidentally is the parliamentary seat of Mahathir – sparked fears he was trying to slip out of Malaysia.

Malaysia’s billion-dollar question: where did 1MDB money go?

The government and the people know that billions have been stolen, Mahathir said. But, calling for cool heads, Mahathir said in an interview with the South China Morning Post that the government wanted indisputable evidence. “So the prosecutors now are gathering that evidence so that when they go to the court of law, the judges don’t base their judgment on sentiment, but … on facts and evidence shown in the court of law. So that is why we are taking a little bit more time than we expected.”

 

He declined to give a timeline on the next stage of the investigations, even as speculation swirled in Malaysia that the charges could be filed against Najib as soon as the next two weeks.

But on Tuesday afternoon, he was quoted as saying that charges would be filed on key suspects – Najib, businessman Jho Low and “a few others” – within months, while a trial would begin later this year.

Charges against Najib would include “embezzlement, stealing government money, and a number of other charges,” he said in the interview with Reuters.

The 1MDB probe extends across six jurisdictions, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore. It has also targeted Najib’s wife, Rosmah, known for her flagrantly ostentatious taste in luxury goods. Set up in 2009 as an infrastructure fund drawn from oil revenues, it has lost US$4.5 billion and is now insolvent. Around US$731 million allegedly ended up in Najib’s personal account. The beleaguered former premier has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the money was a donation from an Arab benefactor.

 

Rosmah Mansor, wife of Najib Razak, arrives at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission headquarters in Putrajaya, Malaysia. Photo: EPA

Pakatan Harapan: Vulnerable?

In the interview with the Post, Mahathir, who won a stunning election on May 9, was asked about his views of a rising China and the region. In addition to taking questions about the 1MDB scandal, he was also asked to comment on the possible vulnerabilities of his Pakatan Harapan coalition.

While Pakatan now claims 125 seats in the 222-seat Parliament, a recent survey by the reputable think-tank Merdeka Centre has found that the coalition did not win over the majority of Malays, who make up 65 per cent of the population.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad is interviewed by the South China Morning Post in Kuala Lumpur. Photo: SCMP Pictures

According to the Merdeka Centre survey, UMNO retained 35-40 per cent of the Malay vote, while the rest was almost evenly split between Pakatan and the Islamic-based party, PAS. In comparison, 95 per cent of Chinese voters chose Pakatan.

Malays have special rights granted by Malaysia’s Constitution. Almost all Malays follow Islam, the official religion of the country. Under the previous Barisan Nasional coalition, the Malay-based United Malays National Organisation was the dominant component party led by Najib. Umno had increasingly played the ethnic and religious cards in elections over the decades.

Supporters of Mahathir Mohamad celebrate his victory in the May 9 election. Photo: Reuters

Commentators credited Mahathir for attracting enough Malays into the Pakatan camp to tilt the balance decisively in its favour. Mahathir has immense stature among Malays as a respected former Prime Minister who held office from 1981 to 2003. The argument, if correct, begs the question of whether Pakatan will be able to retain Malay support after Mahathir steps down, which he has promised to do after two years.

In the interview, Mahathir said there was a clear swing of Malay votes from the Barisan coalition to the opposition in the recent election compared with the previous one in 2015 that contributed to their victory.

Ignoring 1MDB scandal caused Umno’s downfall in Malaysia: Najib

But the Malay vote itself was split between the rural, suburban and urban areas. It was in the latter two areas that Malays had turned against the previous government because they were disenchanted with the “bad things” happening within Umno, especially the corruption scandal.

For rural voters, he said, such issues were harder to grasp but they could understand cost of living woes.

He shrugged off his own personal appeal in winning the Malay vote for the future, saying: “Well, I can’t always be popular, one day I will become unpopular because when you are in the government, you have to do unpopular things. That is not something permanent.” But for now, people were upbeat and they felt that life during his first tenure as Prime Minister was better than during Najib’s time, he said.

Let’s Get Physical

Mahathir, who turns 93 on July 10, was also asked about his physical energy. He laughed, saying it was the number one question he was asked. Although Mahathir, a trained medical doctor, has had two heart bypass operations, he feels fortunate not to have suffered debilitating diseases such as cancer.

His secret to good health? “I think simple things like not putting on weight, not eating too much, proper sleep, a little bit of exercise,” he said, adding that he gets “enough” sleep – about six hours. When he is not able to do that, he has short power naps.

In May, a picture of him at the dining table with just a few spoonfuls of rice on his plate caught the attention of internet users. But then a close-up showed that next to his plate was a small green canister of multivitamin supplements, Berocca. Sales of the supplement received a sudden boost.

Anwar Ibrahim with Mahathir Mohamad in 1997, during the latter’s first stint as prime minister. File photo

Moving On

Under a pact made with his former nemesis turned coalition partner, former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim, he is supposed to hand over the prime minister’s position after two years. However, there have been hints recently that Mahathir intends to stay beyond two years.

Asked about this, he admitted there was a lot to be done. Would he stay beyond two years? “Well, I don’t know whether people will permit me to stay longer. If there is some work I can still do, if I am still healthy, I can think and talk.”

But would he do so as Prime Minister? He demurred smilingly and said softly: “Ya”.

Throughout the interview, he answered questions evenly in his trademark unflappable tone, as an aide kept a strict watch on his time. Asked by a photographer for an autograph, he obliged willingly, noting aloud the date to write to accompany his signature. When the Post invited him to visit Hong Kong, the headquarters of the publication, Mahathir politely remarked about the times he spent there.

“My first ever visit to Hong Kong was in 1960. Where were you?” he quipped to his much younger interviewers.