Malaysia: Malaysian Ingenuity Knows No Bounds when it comes Corruption


December 5, 2017

Malaysia: Malaysian Ingenuity Knows No Bounds when it comes Corruption

by R Nadeswaran

http://www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for Najib as a corrupt Prime Minister

Yes, indeed, Prime Minister Najib Razak is as pure as Caesar’s Wife and a role model for Malaysian millennials. He showed them how to make RM2.6 billion without forking out a single cent.

COMMENT | Experience tells us that Malaysian ingenuity knows no bounds when it comes to addressing issues, or rather getting around them. Malaysians are also noted for being able to provide complicated answers to confuse the questioner. They can side-step, out-talk and out-manoeuvre all and sundry.

We can leave it to our leaders, politicians, civil servants and sometimes even drivers and bodyguards to come out with a plethora of explanations which would put artspeak to shame. (For the uninitiated, artspeak is described as “obscure, esoteric, or pretentious language used to discuss art.”)

Last week, Malaysiakini broke the news that a group of Malaysians allegedly made about RM60 million from a property deal apparently without forking out a single sen. It involved the sale of a Melbourne property to Mara Incorporated Sdn Bhd (Mara Inc), a government agency whose mission is to help poor Malays.

With documents and graphics, Malaysiakini showed the shenanigans in the purchase of a property known as UniLodge, a 12-storey building at 746, Swanston Street in central Melbourne. It was “sold” to Mara Inc for A$41.8 million (about RM138 million) against its then market price and transacted value of A$23.5 million (about RM77.6 million).

Mara Inc entered into an agreement to buy the assets of Scarlett Nominees Ltd, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), which included another BVI shell company called Thrushcross Ltd, which later changed its name to Thrushcross Land Holdings Ltd.

This transaction involved payment of A$41.8 million by Mara Inc to Scarlett supposedly for Unilodge but neither Scarlett nor Thrushcross owned the property at the time of the sale. After having received full payment, the perpetrators paid A$23.5 million for the building and allegedly pocketed the remainder.

However, this is where Malaysian resourcefulness and memory usually work in tandem to produced (un)desired results. When contacted by Malaysiakini, then Mara Inc chairperson Mohammad Lan Allani said he could not remember the details of the transaction.

“What I can say is if the company (Thrushcross) is a shell company, there is no way Mara Inc board would approve the deal. Our SOP (standard operating procedure) is very thorough.

“While I was chairman, I was very meticulous. The SOP must be comprehensive. We had an evaluation process. Only when all these were completed, only then we would proceed.”

But the documents which were made available to Malaysiakini and Fairfax Media in Melbourne show that directors were appointed and removed in a pattern so as to ensure the deal is closed without hitches.

These documents are obtained from the authorities in Melbourne. Sale and purchase agreements signed by solicitors, statement of finances prepared by accountants, valuation reports done by valuers, and there is even a receipt from the Australian government – the stamp duty paid on the transaction of the property.

If Mohammad Lan claims that “there is no way Mara Inc board would approve the deal”, he is being generous with the truth. The dossier leaves a trail of evidence leading to the soiled hands of a few within and outside Mara Inc.

But as in all issues which need specific answers, Mohammad Lan too had a ready answer in his SOP – as chairperson of Marc Inc, he is required to sign all documents. “For details, you have to ask the (then) CEO (Abd Rahim Halim).”

End of matter? Not exactly.

Lofty valuation

Another player entered the fray. Raine & Horne International Zaki + Partners who did the first valuation of A$43 million, defended its lofty price tag. Its executive director Rosli Atan said he was “confident” that the survey, conducted five years ago, was carried out in accordance with proper methods.

If not for semantics, for purposes of getting to the bottom of this whole rigmarole, the word “confident” is somewhat a giveaway or is it redundant? Without wanting to cast aspersions on the individual or the company, the journalistic mind wonders what difference would it made that he said “the survey was carried out according to the proper methods.”

As if to reinforce his confidence, Rosli noted that it was “not true,” when asked about the valuation, which was purported to have been inflated to benefit several Mara Inc officers and their cronies.

“I am confident with my evaluation. In 2012, I was confident. As of the date of the evaluation, I was confident,” Rosli reiterated when contacted by Malaysiakini last Thursday.

But valuations on the same property by two other companies two years later in a booming property market in Melbourne put the price very much lower. CBRE Valuations Pty Ltd valued the UniLodge property at A$25.5 million, while Charter Keck Cramer put the price at A$29.7 million.

It is common knowledge that various factors determine the valuation of a property including supply and demand as explained by Rosli, but it difficult to swallow the fact that the building actually changed hands a few months after Rosli’s valuation for A$23.5 million – leaving a massive profit for those involved in the deal.

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Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob–Reckless and Irresponsible but loyal to UMNO President

Also joining the fray and putting his name into the hat on Malaysian inventiveness was Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who spoke on behalf of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

He said MACC is currently waiting for a report from Australian authorities regarding the transactions.

“So it is better for us to just wait for that, there’s no use raising the matter again,” Ismail Sabri was quoted as saying by Sinar Harian.

Mr Minister, we beg to differ. This is not raising the matter again. This is a new matter altogether. These documents on Unilodge only emerged two weeks ago and even Mara Inc officials were not aware that they bought a shell company for A$41.8 million. This alone speaks of the internal checks and balances and the mechanisms within Mara Inc.

Until those involved in this self-indulgent floundering of people’s money are brought to book, every Malaysian has his or her right to keep these issues in public domain. It may add to the long list of “unfinished” business of the MACC or it may land in its ‘morgue’ where files gather dust and are subsequently forgotten over time.

 

PetroSaudi’s Prince Turki Is Rounded Up On Corruption Charges In Saudi Arabia


November 6, 2017

PetroSaudi’s Prince Turki Is Rounded Up On Corruption Charges In Saudi Arabia

by Sarawak Report

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For two years Malaysia’s PM Najib Razak has leaned on an implausible explanation for his pre-election bonanza of US $681 million in his bank account, which was that it was a kind ‘donation’ from Saudi Royals. These Royals were hinted to be a king and his son, whom current Deputy PM Zahid Hamidi claims also to have met and discussed the ‘donation’ matter with.

The US Department of Justice have, to the contrary, traced the money step by step back to a theft from Malaysia’s own 1MDB development fund, which was controlled by Najib.

Requests that the alleged Saudi royals should be named have always been met with a shrug by BN’s top brass – why should one delve into detail about such ‘untouchable’ people was the official line?  On the other hand, off the record, Najib’s key media spinner, his British communications chief Paul Stadlen, has subtly directed journalists to a BBC article which named the late King Abdullah and his son Prince Turki, who is a former shareholder and director of PetroSaudi.

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From left to right are Jho Low;Prince Turki, the owner of PetroSaudi;  Prime Minister Najib Razak; wife Rosmah Mansor and the couple’s son, Nor Ashman ; Tarek Obaid, the Director of PetrSaudi and Rosmah’s daughter, Nooryana Najwa.

PetroSaudi was the company embroiled in the first major theft from 1MDB, a matter originally exposed by Sarawak Report and now confirmed by the FBI/DOJ court filings on the world’s largest kleptocracy investigation.

Some $1.83 billion was stolen from 1MDB using a bogus joint venture with PetroSaudi during the period 2009-11. At the time this supposed Saudi oil company was effectively a shell, despite being presented to the Malaysian public as a major player in the oil business.

The money trails show that $77 million was paid to Prince Turki in the aftermath of that deal, although most of the cash went to Jho Low, who was Najib’s own proxy in the negotiations. Even larger kickbacks also went to Prince Turki’s active business partner, Tarek Obaid, who has faced investigations into the affair in several countries and is currently remaining in Switzerland.

Prince Turki extricated himself from PetroSaudi soon after the scandal broke and is no longer involved in the company.  He has also taken action over being effectively named as “Saudi Prince” in the DOJ’s original court filings in 2016, which detailed how $24.5 million had been passed from Jho Low’s company Good Star in 2011 to a Saudi Prince and then $20 million of that was passed on to Najib:

Original court filing mentioning 'Saudi Prince' - our highligts

Turki’s lawyers have been pointing out that the most recent version of the FBI filings (July 2017) indicate a more complex transaction that may have distanced the prince through the joint ownership of a company that received the cash.  The revised version of the court document refers to a Riyadh company and Saudi Associates rather than a Saudi Prince:

According to J.P. Morgan Chase and RBS Coutts banking records, between February and June of 2011, approximately $24,500,000 of these funds was transferred to an account at Riyad Bank maintained in the name of two Saudi nationals who were associates of LOW and TAN (“SAUDI ASSOCIATE 1” AND “SAUDI ASSOCIATE 2”). From those funds, $20,000,000 was then transferred, within days, to an account belonging to MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1 [updated version of the DOJ court filing]

Prince Turki went on to become Governor of Riyadh, thanks to his powerful connections as the seventh son of the former King Abdullah.  However, he was sacked the day after his father died and now he features as number three on the list of princes rounded up overnight by the new powers that be in Saudi Arabia.

World headlines

He and his fellow princes have been charged with corruption, which makes an uncomfortable prospect for Najib Razak, who has continued to rely on his dodgy Saudi Prince donor story to cover up the vast sums found in his personal bank accounts by global and domestic investigators tracing the billions stolen from the fund he controlled.

Image result for Najib's Selfie with King SalmanSaudi King Salman with Malaysia’s Corrupt Prime Minister Najib Razak who claims to be the King’s especially close and trusted friend (sahabat akrab)

Najib and his wife Rosmah have traded on their supposed good relations with Saudi as a vital part of their bid for respectability.

Najib gloried that he had managed to steal a selfie opportunity with the new King Salman on a visit to Malaysia and circulated it on social media.

He and his wife have hurried to and fro from Mecca to repeatedly and very publicly perform religious obeisances.

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Prime Minister of Malaysia and his Foreign Minister Anifah Aman

Crucially, he was able to stage through his Foreign Minister, Anifah Aman, a press interview with the Saudi Foreign Minister, in which the Minister said he accepted after all that there had been such a donation.  No details were given and earlier the same minister had denied that Saudi royals had provided Najib’s cash.

There is a view that one trade-off for this willingness by the Saudi establishment to turn a blind eye towards Najib’s domestic corruption issues has been Malaysia’s support of their military adventures against Yemen. Solidiers have even been despatched to join the military operations pummelling that troubled and backward country.

Najib and Rosmah have enthusiastically visited Saudi Arabia numerous times

 

Najib and Rosmah have visited Saudi Arabia numerous times

In seeming harmony with this currying of favour, Najib has also bowed towards supporting increasing extremism and intolerance over religious matters in Malaysia, promoting the ‘Islamic State’ agenda of the Saudi-educated leader of the Islamic party PAS, which was perhaps supposed to bring Malaysia in line with the Middle East, but has destabilised relations between communities in his own multi-cultural South East Asian country.

Now, however, the power in Saudi is a young Prince, who says he wants a corruption clean up and to modernise the Kingdom. Even if that means turning on members of his all-powerful Royal Family, once considered so ‘untouchable’.

The Prince, who has effectively taken over all his father’s powers, has also made clear he wants to ‘return his country to moderate Islam’ and to encourage tolerance and openness towards other faiths that will encourage outside investors, as Saudi looks forward to a future where the world no longer relies on its petroleum deposits.

“We want to lead normal lives, lives where our religion and our traditions translate into tolerance, so that we coexist with the world and become part of the development of the world,” he said…Saudi Arabia’s crown prince vowed Tuesday to destroy “extremist ideologies” in a bid to return to “a more moderate Islam.”…”Seventy percent of the Saudi population is under the age of 30. In all honesty, we will not spend 30 years of our lives dealing with extremist ideologies. We will destroy them today and immediately,” bin Salman said. [CNN News October 25th]

So, the question is, where does this leave Najib and the tacit understanding that all his money was a nice gift from the previous King and his son Prince Turki, now arrested on corruption charges?  What will those charges be?

Also, where does the new look Saudi Arabia leave Najib’s growing pact with the old-school Muslim supremacist, Hadi Awang of PAS, who wants to introduce Hudud Law and an ‘Islamic state’ into Malaysia?

Venezuela

This is not the only foreign corruption case that 1MDB’s erswhile partners at PetroSaudi are facing.  There is a developing court case in Venezuela, which is proving very embarrassing indeed and also proving that every word that Sarawak Report has written about the concerns over corrupt conduct over the company’s 1MDB financed investments in Venezuela are founded on fact.

A recent article in the Venezuelan press details that court proceedings have now implicated the fugitive former head of the state oil company and six senior executives in a corrupt contract that was effectively bought by up front cash introduced by PetroSaudi from 1MDB. In return these officials lumbered their own country with an outrageous agreement that guaranteed PetroSaudi vast returns on their paltry investment, which has now ceased to produce any oil at all.

PetroSaudi has been suing Venezuela to honour that dodgy contract, which is an issue that is separately still going through the London courts.  The person who supported that contract and who provided the front required by PetroSaudi, which was posing to Venezuela as a Saudi state linked company, was Prince Turki.  He had performed a similar role in giving status and a sense of official Saudi backing from his father, the then King, at the launching of his company’s joint venture with 1MDB.  This was his opening letter to the Venezuelan authorities, which had been dictated by his partner Tarek Obaid:

Prince Turki's letter to Venezuela

Malaysians, including Najib, must now wait with interest to see what information comes out of Saudi, now that his key ally has been hauled up on charges.

Prince Turki's similar letter to Najib

 

Crapitalism versus Conmunism


October 28, 2017

Crapitalism versus Conmunism

by Dean Johns

https://deanjohns.wordpress.com/2017/10/28/crapitalism-versus-conmunism/

The state of global power-economics these days seems to me to pretty well illustrate the truth of John Kenneth Galbraith’s famous remark that ‘under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism it’s just the opposite’.

Image result for john kenneth galbraith quote on capitalism and communism

In other words, capitalism at its crappiest, in the form of so-called ‘neoliberalism’, is devoted to the greater enrichment of the rich and the further impoverishment of the poor by many means including the process of privatizing profits and socializing losses, as witnessed most spectacularly in relatively recent times by the splurging of public money to prop-up the predatory profiteers that precipitated the global financial crisis of 2007-8.

While Communism, having already been revealed as a monstrous con by decades of murderous Stalinist and Maoist totalitarianism and the collapse of the USSR in 1991, has been spurred by its decades of failure to achieve world domination by military means to finally embracing money as the way to beat the crapitalist West and its allies at their own game.

This strategy looks like a winner so far for Conmunist and now also crapitalist China, as it already has the US deeply in its debt, and is busily making countries like Australia, for example, as dependent on it as possible through trade, while outright buying those that, like Malaysia, have ruling regimes that are allegedly for sale to the highest bidder.

And, in recognition of the well-known fact that capitalism/crapitalism is driven by fear as well as greed, China continues supporting the Kim regime in North Korea to keep its competitors nervous.

Meanwhile, the exponents of crapitalism everywhere else seem to imagine that it’s business as usual, and continue to try and excuse their execrable excesses by quoting the observation by Adam Smith (1723-1790) in his classic work on economics, The Wealth of Nations, that ‘it is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.’

But they take care to selectively ignore the fact that, while he identified self-interest as the motivation for capitalist entrepreneurship, Smith deplored self-interest so excessive as to constitute neoliberal-style crapitalism.

Stating, for example, that ‘our merchants and masters complain much of the bad effects of high wages in raising the price and lessening the sale of goods. They say nothing concerning the bad effects of high profits. They are silent with regard to the pernicious effects of their own gains.’

And also declaring that ‘no society can surely be flourishing and happy of which by far the greater part of the numbers are poor and miserable.’

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By about a century after Smith had written these cautionary words, however, capitalism if not outright crapitalism had rendered the vast majority of people in most societies so poor and miserable that Karl Marx called for the abolition of not just private profiteering, but private property.

Instead proposing public or ‘collective’ or national ownership of each country’s natural resources, land, agriculture, manufacturing, trade and commerce, and the equal participation of all citizens according to the principle he famously stated as ‘from each according to his abilities; to each according to his needs.’

This, Marx predicted, would lead to the elimination of not just economic and social inequalities, but even, eventually, to the ‘withering-away of the state.’

But unfortunately he placed far too much faith in G.W.F. Hegel’s ‘dialectic’ proposing the paradoxical reversal of the master-slave relationship, and too little, if any, in Immanuel Kant’s perception that one crucial factor that differentiates us humans from other animals is that we’re driven by not just by potentially satiable physical needs but also by our capacities for insatiable psychological wants, or greeds.

So the idealism of Marx’s ‘Communist Manifesto’ quickly manifestered into fake Marxist, Leninist and other ideologies according to which, as George Orwell famously remarked in his classic political allegory Animal Farm, ‘all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.’

And, catastrophically worse, as Orwell went on to expound in his subsequent novel 1984, the state, far from withering away as Marx had predicted, became utterly dictatorial, or, in a word, totalitarian.

Single-party dictatorships used Marx’s all-too-true observation that ‘religion is the opiate of the people’ to force their people to forsake their worship of traditional deities in favour of omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent communist parties and their quasi-divine premiers like Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong and others of their accursed ilk.

Of course, except in cases like that of the Christian so-called ‘right’ and those nations ranging from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia led by lying, repressive and clearly corrupt regimes falsely claiming to be genuinely Islamic for the purpose of keeping the ‘faithful’ supporting them, religion is not so much of an opiate of the people these days as it was back in Karl Marx’s time.

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Najib Razak– People First in Words, but he robs state money and puts Rm2.6  billion into his personal bank account, making him Malaysia’s First crabitalist in Action

But there are lots of alternative people-dumbing opiates available now than Karl ever dreamed of. In Australia, for example, the country I happen to inhabit, the list of alternative addictions to religion to keep as many people as possible from focusing on the fact that the nation is cursed with as crapitalist a neoliberal government as any on the planet is virtually endless.

Ranging from actual opiates like heroin and opioid prescription painkillers through alcohol, sport, poker machines, celebrity worship and ‘reality’ television to the entire web of potential addictions awaiting the unwary online, from pathological levels of social networking through gaming and gambling to internet porn.

Personally, as a recovering workaholic, reformed capitalist and long-time fan of Karl Marx’s ideal of ‘from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs’ but an enemy of its perversion by ideological communism, the only refuge from crapitalism, conmunism and popular opiates that I’ve been able to find is my favourite alternative Marxism.

Image result for Groucho Marxism

Groucho Marxism, that is. As the great Groucho himself famously remarked, I have no desire to join any club that would have me as a member. Especially if it was a club that thought it could club me into claiming complete, unquestioning faith in crapitalism, communism, nationalism, patriotism or indeed any other economic, political religious or social –ism you can think of.

1MDB –Another Causalty — Tim Leissner–More still at Large


October 5, 2017

1MDB –Another Casualty — Tim Leissner–More  still at Large

From The Wall Street Journal

by Justin Baer

Image result for 1MDB and Najib

The Malaysian Leader behind the 1MDB Scandal (DOJ Code Name: Malaysian Official 1)

A former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. senior banker linked to alleged financial fraud involving Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. was barred from the U.S. securities industry for failing to cooperate with a regulator’s investigation.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, a U.S. industry body, said it issued its ban on Tim Leissner on September. 11, after the former banker didn’t respond to requests for documents and other information stemming from his departure from Goldman in early 2016.

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High Flying  Tim Leissner, formerly of Goldman Sachs, seen with  ex-wife Kimora Lee Simmons, is banned from US Securities Industry.

Mr. Leissner was suspended by Goldman and later quit the Wall Street firm after it discovered he had written an unauthorized letter vouching for Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman who is at the center of international probes alleging that billions of dollars were stolen from the state investment fund, The Wall Street Journal has reported.

“Without admitting or denying the findings, Mr. Leissner consented to the sanction and to the entry of findings,” the regulator wrote in Mr. Leissner’s file, noting that Mr. Leissner failed to provide Finra with certain requested documents and information during the course of an investigation into a reference letter that led to his departure from Goldman.

A Finra spokeswoman and a spokesman for Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Mr. Leissner’s lawyer declined to comment. Mr. Low has previously denied wrongdoing, as has 1MDB, which has said it would cooperate with the investigations.

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This Penang-born “Arab”is still at Large

U.S. Justice Department investigators are trying to determine whether Goldman had reason to suspect that money it helped 1MDB raise was misused and, if so, whether the bank was obligated to report any concerns to authorities. The Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and New York state’s Department of Financial Services also have undertaken examinations of some of the bank’s actions, as have Singapore authorities, the Journal reported last year, citing people familiar with the matter.

Goldman had raised $6.5 billion for the fund and earned nearly $600 million in fees, making the Malaysian client among its most lucrative, the Journal reported at the time. Goldman has previously said it did nothing wrong and had no way of knowing there might be fraud surrounding 1MDB.

Central to Goldman’s 1MDB dealings was Mr. Leissner, a senior investment banker and chairman of the firm’s Southeast Asia office until his departure.

In June 2015, Mr. Leissner wrote to Banque Havilland, a small Luxembourg private bank, vouching for Mr. Low, who wanted to open an account there, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The letter said Goldman had done due diligence on Mr. Low and found no issues. Banque Havilland hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

Goldman compliance executives unearthed the document in a January 2016 email search, The Journal reported. The firm said it confronted Mr. Leissner about the letter, which violated its policies, and he resigned the next day. Later, Singapore’s Monetary Authority cited the letter in barring Mr. Leissner from doing business in the city-state for a decade.

Write to Justin Baer at justin.baer@wsj.com and Tom Wright at tom.wright@wsj.com

Also Read: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-10-03/ex-goldman-banker-leissner-barred-from-u-s-securities-industry

 

DOJ Action against 1MDB continues


October 4, 2017

DOJ Action against 1MDB continues, despite Najib’s embrace of President Donald Trump–Justice will be done

http://www.sarawakreport.org

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When the US Dept Of Justice gained its court order to suspend various court actions over the assets it has now seized and frozen relating to 1MDB last month, it made clear that this was because it was in the middle of intensifying its criminal investigations.

In doing so federal agents for the first time described their chief targets in the investigation as criminal suspects, including the PM’s advisor Jho Low and the PM’s step-son Riza Aziz along with the ex-Chairman of Aabar, Khadem Al Qubaisi. However, they also made clear that this was by no means conclusive list:

“The FACs [First Amended Complaints] allege that the individuals who were involved in the Criminal Phases include, but are not limited to, Low; Riza Aziz (“Aziz”), a Malaysian national and the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB; and Khadem al-Qubaisi (“Qubaisi”) . Moreover, the FACs allege that Low and several others, including Aziz and Qubaisi, were involved in or facilitated several multi-million dollar transfers that were made as part of the Criminal Phases. Many of these transfers and Low and others’ involvement in them are described in the FACs, underscoring the direct relationship between the 1MBD Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation.” [Declaration of FBI Special Agent Robert Heuchling – filed 9th May 2017]

In other words Jho Low and Riza can expect to face formal criminal charges sooner rather than later.

Image result for najib meets donald trump

Given that this submission by the DOJ was accepted by Judge Dale Fischer and the court order granted on September 13th, the day after Najib met with Donald Trump, it lays to rest all the recent spin about the case being dropped, thanks to supposed intervention from the President.

The wording of the joint FBI/DOJ submission also intensifies the heat on Najib himself by pointing the finger ever more directly at him.  Just in case anyone in Malaysia still believes that the prime mover and beneficiary of the heist, MO1, refers to someone other than Najib Razak, the statement spells it out even more clearly, because criminal suspect Riza Aziz is described as “the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB” – i.e. Najib and Malaysian Official One (MO1) are without any mistaking one and the same.

Here is an abridgement of the points made in the FBI declaration by Agent Heuchling:

I am a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”)....Specifically, the FACs allege that, over the course of four phases (collectively the “Criminal Phases”), billions of dollars were stolen from the Malaysian government’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MBD”), a strategic investment company...The 1MDB Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation are related because they involve the same or substantially the same parties, witnesses, facts and circumstances.  Specifically, the United States is investigating the individuals, entities, financial and monetary transactions, and investment vehicles involved in the Criminal Phases.  As alleged in the FACs, one of the Criminal Phases involved the fraudulent diversion of more than $1 billion in proceeds from 1MDB to a Swiss bank account held in the name of Good Star Ltd...The FACs allege that Taek Jho Low (“Low”), a Malaysian national, controlled the Good Star Account, and used the criminal proceeds diverted from 1MBD and deposited into the Good Star Account to purchase tens of millions of dollars of assets in the United States.  During two of the other Criminal Phases, the FACs allege that Low and his associates conspired to divert and misappropriate approximately more than $2.5 billion in proceeds that 1MDB raised through multiple bond offerings in 2012 and 2013.  Many of these funds were then used to acquire assets that are the subject of the 1MDB Actions.  Similarly, during another Criminal Phase, the FACs allege that 1MDB officials and their associates conspired to misappropriate approximately $850 million in 1MDB funds that were borrowed from a syndicate of banks led by Deutsche Bank.  Some of these funds were also used to acquire assets relating to the 1MDB Actions. The FACs allege that the individuals who were involved in the Criminal Phases include, but are not limited to, Low; Riza Aziz (“Aziz”), a Malaysian national and the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB; and Khadem al-Qubaisi (“Qubaisi”) .  Moreover, the FACs allege that Low and several others, including Aziz and Qubaisi, were involved in or facilitated several multi-million dollar transfers that were made as part of the Criminal Phases.  Many of these transfers and Low and others’ involvement in them are described in the FACs, underscoring the direct relationship between the 1MBD Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation. I believe that allowing discovery or other proceedings to occur in the 1MBD Actions will have an adverse impact on the United States’ ongoing criminal investigation..... the claimant in that case propounded 358 separate document requests seeking broad discovery intothe United States’ investigation.  These requests seek “all” documents obtained by the United States during its investigation “[c]oncerning,” among other things, individuals and persons referenced in the forfeiture complaint..transactions cited in the complaint...assets acquired by persons referenced in the complaint
.. the criminal acts alleged in the complaint,including the unlawful diversion and misappropriation of 1MBD and other funds; thematerial misrepresentations and omissions discussed in the complaint; the knowledge and intent of those involved in the criminalacts; specific money laundering transactions; the involvement ofany one of more than thirty banks in the monetary transactions described in the complaint; and communications that the United States has had with various individuals, persons and their counselThe claimant’s counsel also requests that the United States produce “[a]ll Documents and Communications concerning” twenty different legal entities...“including but not limited to . . . ‘information supplied [] by other law enforcement officers, experts,and other witnesses’” (Request No. 2); between any of the over forty individuals discussed or referenced in the forfeiture complaint along with “[d]ocuments sufficient to identify the name, home address, business(es), e-mail address(es), telephone number(s) and facsimile numbers” of these individuals (Request Nos. 3 and 4);  and concerning “all subpoenas, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (‘MLAT’) requests” or documents and communications obtained by the United States pursuant to any MLAT requests (Request No. 9)....Finally, the requests ..seek, among other things, “all” documents and communications[c]oncerning” the extent to which the United States relied upon “anyother country or principality” as a source of evidence and information; “all” agreements, including cooperation or settlement agreements, the Government entered into with individuals and persons; “all” “witness statements,transcripts, memoranda of interviews,reports, notes or video or audio recordings” “[c]oncerning” the subject matter of the forfeiture complaint; “all [d]ocuments and[c]communications” between the United States and “any other country or principality . . . including Malaysia, Seychelles, Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand, the British Virgin Islands, and the United Arab Emirates” or any of these countries’ agents or representatives..All or almost all of these documents are evidence of the conduct underlying the Criminal Phases of the 1MBD Actions.Providing these documents to any of the claimants in the 1MDB Actions could result in their disclosure to other third parties.  The disclosure of such information to subjects or targets of the criminal investigation could give these individuals and entities a preview of the United States’ criminal investigation as well as the opportunity to track the status of the criminal investigation.  Disclosure of such materials also will potentially identify witnesses who have provided information to the government, including their identity and location ...By obtaining discovery directly from the government or third parties about the government’s investigation, individuals and entities involved in the Criminal Phases could potentially conceal, alter, or destroy evidence, as well as intimidate and/or retaliate against potential witnesses Producing any identifying witness information could result in witness intimidation or jeopardize the safety and security of witnesses – a legitimate concern in this case, given that press reports have publicized potentially retaliatory or threatening acts linked possibly to the 1MDB investigation.
For example:On or about September 1, 2015, the media reported that Khairuddin Abu Hassan, an official in the United Malays National Organization, was arrested by Malaysian authorities after he announced that he intended to travel to New York to provide information about 1MDB to the FBI. Similarly, on or about August 1, 2015, the media reported that three Malaysian law enforcement officials, including a deputy public prosecutor, an official of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and an official from the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia, all of whom were working on a special task force in Malaysia investigating 1MDB, were arrested by Malaysia’s Special Branch, Malaysia’s intelligence service, because of news reports relating to 1MDB published in the United Kingdom. On or about April 8, 2016, Malaysian media reported that Rafizi Ramli, a member of Malaysia’s Parliament, was arrested because he was suspected of disclosing information relating to 1MDB. Just a few days ago, Malaysian local media reported that the driver of former Malaysian attorney-general, Abdul Gani Patail, who opened the initial investigation into 1MDB in that country, was shot in public by two unidentified men. (See “Driver’s Shooting a Warning to Gani Patail from ‘MO1’ Not to Assist in DOJ’s 1MDB Criminal Probe? [Abridgement of Agent Heurchling statement, which was accepted by the Court]

 The above cites that the targets of the civil case are the same as in the criminal investigation and they are now trying to get disclosure of information involving 30 banks, 20 jurisdictions and 40 individual people who have assisted in the 1MDB investigation so far.

Image result for Riza Aziz and DOJ

The FBI and DOJ have made plain that they do not wish to provide such information to tip of their criminal suspects and enable them to intimidate witnesses, so they have frozen the assets relating to the money laundering until they have brought their formal charges. The US Court has accepted their position.

Trump appeases an authoritarian Malaysian Prime Minister to The White House


September 13, 2017

Trump appeases an authoritarian Malaysian Prime Minister to the White House

By Editorial Board, The Washington Post

The Post’s View

Opinion

 

Malaysian PM Najib Razak reviews an honour guard at The White House. Romeo Ranoco/Reuters

PRESIDENT TRUMP has made a habit of embracing authoritarian rulers he regards as friendly, without regard for their subversion of democratic norms or gross human rights violations. Yet his meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House on Tuesday sets a new low. Not only is Mr. Najib known for imprisoning peaceful opponents, silencing critical media and reversing Malaysia’s progress toward democracy. He also is a subject of the largest foreign kleptocracy investigation ever launched by the U.S. Justice Department.

U.S. investigators have charged that Mr. Najib and close associates diverted $4.5 billion from a Malaysian government investment fund for their own uses, including $730 million that ended up in accounts controlled by the Prime Minister. Justice first filed civil suits seeking the freezing of some $1.7 billion in assets in the United States, including real estate, artworks and stakes in Hollywood movies; more recently, the department asked that those actions be put on hold while it pursues a criminal investigation. Mr. Najib has not been charged with a crime and denies wrongdoing, but the U.S. investigation prompted speculation in Malaysia that he could be arrested if he set foot on American soil — not good PR for a leader who is obligated to call an election sometime in the next few months.

[Here’s what President Trump should tell Malaysia’s prime minister]

With his White House invitation, Mr. Trump has neatly gotten Mr. Najib off that hook and provided him with what the regime will portray as a tacit pre-election endorsement. Despite his repression, Mr. Najib could use that sort of help: In the last election, in 2013, his party lost the popular vote and retained power only because of the gerrymandering of election districts.

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President Trump and other top American officials, left, met at the White House with Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia and his delegation, right .The Post’s Editorial states: “The best way for the United States to build a stronger alliance with Malaysia and bolster its independence from China is to encourage those in the country who support liberal democratic values — while holding Mr. Najib accountable for his human rights violations, as well as any financial crimes he may have committed in the United States”.

If the White House received anything in exchange for that huge political favor, it’s not evident. That’s particularly unfortunate because Mr. Najib’s regime is not only a conspicuous violator of human rights but a relative friend to North Korea. The regime of Kim Jong Un has exported workers to Malaysia to earn hard currency. Kim Jong Un’s estranged half brother was murdered in Kuala Lumpur’s international airport — so far with no consequences for Pyongyang.

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Mr. Trump isn’t the only  U.S. President to pursue a policy of appeasement toward Mr. Najib. Barack Obama was the first appeaser who played golf with and visited the Malaysian Prime Minister in Malaysia.

Mr. Trump isn’t the first U.S. President to pursue a policy of appeasement toward Mr. Najib. President Barack Obama golfed with the Prime Minister and flattered him with the first visit by a U.S. President to Malaysia in nearly half a century. Like Mr. Obama, Mr. Trump may imagine that courting Mr. Najib is a necessary counter to China, which has hosted him twice in the past year and wooed him with promises of about $100 billion in investments. Yet Mr. Najib’s corruption and disregard for democratic norms mean he will inevitably prefer the values-free patronage of Beijing over alliance with Washington.

The best way for the United States to build a stronger alliance with Malaysia and bolster its independence from China is to encourage those in the country who support liberal democratic values — while holding Mr. Najib accountable for his human rights violations, as well as any financial crimes he may have committed in the United States. If Mr. Trump makes a start at that on Tuesday, he could begin to mitigate the error of inviting Mr. Najib to the White House.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/trump-welcomes-an-authoritarian-to-the-white-house/2017/09/11/9d19f51c-9707-11e7-b569-3360011663b4_story.html?utm_term=.e59f606520a0