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

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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


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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.

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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.

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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



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.


Another page of Malaysian pulp fiction

September 10, 2017

Another page of Malaysian pulp fiction

IFR Asia 1008  – September 9, 2017

By Jonathan Rogers

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A Bull Session in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington–September 12, 2017

The latest iteration in the drawn-out epic of alleged financial malfeasance at Malaysia’s 1MDB seems straight out of a pulp fiction potboiler. That comes as no surprise, given what has come before, but it is a chilling example of a mindset of fear which has come to grip the citizens of that country.

I’m referring to a court filing made last week in a Los Angeles court by the FBI, which seeks anonymity for its informants in the 1MDB case on the basis that they fear reprisals should it emerge that they have testified in connection with the case to the US authorities.

Special agent Robert Heuchling stated that these individuals were afraid that they might “place the safety and security of both themselves and their families at serious risk” should it emerge that they had provided evidence to a Department of Justice criminal case in connection with more than US$1bn said to have been siphoned from 1MDB.

Heuchling referred to the August 30 shooting in broad daylight on a Kuala Lumpur street of the chauffeur of Malaysia’s former Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail as a possible warning to those who might testify in the 1MDB case to US investigators.

You might imagine the agent’s statement read in the cynical, matter-of-fact tones of Humphrey Bogart’s Philip Marlowe (even though Marlowe never got to investigate a case involving the alleged embezzlement of a sum estimated at close to US$6bn, even taking inflation into account).

It might just be that the paranoia simmering in Malaysia has reached fever pitch and that the shooting was simply an event disconnected from the government-owned investment agency. Or it might mean that the latest act in the 1MDB drama is about fear and desperation.

After all, the DoJ last month put on hold its civil action against US assets said to have been looted from 1MDB – a now infamous US$1.7bn roster of items ranging from Beverly Hills mansions and Picasso paintings to a super-yacht – to avoid hampering an ongoing criminal investigation.

And that means the seemingly inevitable issuance of international arrest warrants against the alleged perpetrators of the scam, some of whom have been named in the DoJ civil case, some perhaps who have not.

The arrest of these individuals or their becoming fugitives is only a matter of time, unless the criminal case is dropped. It might not be that a shooting in broad daylight in KL signals that the saga has entered its endgame phase, but you could be forgiven for thinking that it has.

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Malaysia’s No.1 Crook and Corrupter is being welcomed by The Trump White House on September 12, 2017. My American friends, what does that make Donald Trump? It could be a case of birds of the same feather embracing each other. If given a chance,  the White Press crops should give the Malaysian leader a proper roasting.–Din Merican

MEANWHILE WE HAVE the prospect of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak visiting Washington this week on an official visit – his first to the US in his decade in power.

We can only watch as that visit pans out, but it seems unlikely that Najib will be able to escape a grilling over 1MDB at press conferences with President Trump, unless the latter declares a moratorium on the issue – something which is not entirely far-fetched.

But if the pending visit is indeed the PR triumph which Najib is likely to be hoping for, it comes at an awkward time with regard to a matter of foreign policy which dwarfs the goings on at 1MDB: North Korea.

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After a week during which Trump threatened sanctions against any country which traded with North Korea, it is apposite that Malaysia is one of the few countries to have maintained friendly relations with Pyongyang in the past, with embassies in each respective capital and even visa-free access for tourists. Reuters reported in February about a Malaysia-based company called Glocom which was described in a UN report as a front for North Korea.

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Every Member of the Malaysian Cabinet is tainted with the 1MDB scandal

Relations have deteriorated since the killing of Kim Jong-nam in Kuala Lumpur airport earlier this year. Still, amid the current hysteria surrounding trade sanctions, this week’s trip carries a somewhat exquisite aura of embarrassment – even leaving aside 1MDB.

Of course from Trump’s viewpoint it could all simply add up to another photo opportunity on one of his golf courses. But at a time when Malaysia increasingly looks to China for infrastructure investment, and indeed in the eyes of many observers is cast as the latter’s client, it will be interesting to see quite whether Najib can straddle the demands of the big power to the East and that to the West.

In the meantime, those with little skin in the game can sit back and enjoy the latest episode of a piece of pulp fiction brought to life.

Najib-Trump meeting under the spotlight

September 9, 2017

Najib-Trump meeting under the spotlight

Malaysia’s embattled premier will seek to reset bilateral relations with America’s leader while avoiding any commitments that may irk his financial patrons in Beijing.

Singapore, September 9, 2017 5:10 PM (UTC+8)



Image result for Najib Razak and Rosmah MansorHeading for The White House to pay homage to Emperor Donald J Trump, and hoping to do an Obama on the 45th POTUS

The US Department of Justice has filed dozens of civil lawsuits seeking to seize dozens of US-based properties and other assets tied to 1MDB, a state fund Najib created and until recently oversaw. The charges claim Malaysian officials and their associates conspired to fraudulently divert US$1.7 billion from 1MDB to purchase assets in America.

Media reports have widely speculated that Najib is the unnamed “Malaysian Official 1” mentioned in the charge sheet. US investigators believe more than US$3.5 billion was illicitly siphoned from the state fund. The DoJ recently asked to stay its civil proceedings to avoid prejudicing an ongoing US government criminal investigation into the charges.

Najib’s 1MDB troubles extend beyond the US. Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund gave 1MDB five days to make a US$600 million payment owed to its International Petroleum Investment Company. Malaysia had vowed to make the payment from proceeds collected in a 1MDB asset sale rationalization plan. Switzerland and Singapore have also opened probes into alleged financial irregularities involving the fund.

A construction worker talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Olivia Harris - RTX2576B


The Malaysian leader appears keen to leverage the Trump visit as a diplomatic opportunity to deflect attention from his 1MDB troubles, emphasizing to his critics that he has been invited at the highest level of the US government while the DoJ-led cases and Federal Bureau of Investigation probe are ongoing.

US-Malaysia relations had improved significantly under former US President Barack Obama, but notably cooled after the 1MDB probe was launched, opening the way for China to steal a march. Najib has leaned heavily on China, now Malaysia’s largest trade partner and foreign investor, for financial sustenance amid a sluggish domestic economy.

Chinese state enterprises have stepped in to acquire a power generation business and other distressed 1MDB assets to relieve pressure on the indebted fund, adding further impetus to the strategic importance of bilateral ties while pulling Najib’s beleaguered administration closer to Beijing.

Najib also secured US$34 billion in economic and investment agreements with Beijing last year, including the first major defense deal between the two countries involving the purchase of four Chinese-made naval vessels. The two sides held their first joint military drill, involving more than 1,000 Chinese troops, in September 2015.

Those drills, including joint search and rescue, hijacked vessel rescue, and disaster relief were held partly in the Strait of Malacca, a strategically crucial waterway where as much as 80% of China’s energy imports pass. Strategic analysts predict the US would bid to block China’s passage through the narrow waterway in any conflict.

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak inspects honor guards during a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, in Beijing, China, November 1, 2016. Photo: Reuters/Jason Lee

American media have framed Najib’s visit as part of an intensifying regional tug-of-war between the US and China for Southeast Asian influence, a contest Beijing increasingly appears to be winning.

CNN referred to Najib’s visit as “the latest salvo in the ongoing battle for supremacy in Southeast Asia between Washington and Beijing”, while a New York Times article noted that US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson “confronted a resurgent China everywhere he went” during last month’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit held in Manila.

Najib is also expected to leverage his White House invitation to score political points against opposition figures who had earlier cast doubts he would be granted an audience with Trump because of his ongoing 1MDB legal troubles – though the US leader has been undeterred so far by the bad optics of fraternizing with controversial foreign leaders.

The US Department of Justice has filed dozens of civil lawsuits seeking to seize dozens of US properties and other assets tied to 1MDB, a state fund Najib created and until recently oversaw

“Najib wants to create the impression that the 1MDB scandal is a baseless accusation churned out by the opposition,” said Shamsul Akmar, an independent political analyst. “His supporters would also contend that if Najib is guilty of wrongdoings with 1MDB, surely Trump would not want to be associated with him, let alone receive him and be seen together.”

“Trump’s readiness to meet Najib only encourages his supporters to believe that [his] strategy of leaning towards China had made the US realize that it cannot take Malaysia for granted,” Akmar said. “That should give Najib the courage to urge Trump to assist in slowing down pursuit of the 1MDB case.”

The visit will also give Najib political ammunition to counter opposition criticism his government has become too dependent on China. It will require a fine diplomatic balancing act, however, to both please Trump and avoid alienating China at a time Beijing has given his 1MDB liabilities such a crucial financial lifeline.


Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, November 10, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon