One year ago on 25th July 2015, Kuala Lumpur was awash with rumours that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was about to be charged in court for corruption arising from 1MDB and RM2.6 billion “donation” twin mega scandals.
I found such rumours quite incredulous as how the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak with his intelligence networks could be unaware of such rampant grapevine talk and was doing nothing about the situation.
But three days later, “The Empire Struck Back”, starting with the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail, who was told early in the morning of Tuesday, July 28, 2015 when he went to his office that he had been sacked, followed by the sacking of the then Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, Senior Minister for Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, and a series of other actions to clamp or close down investigations into the 1MDB and RM2.6 billion (which later turned out to be RM4.2 billion) donation mega scandals – like the dissolution of the high-level Special Task Force on 1MDB; the derailment of PAC investigations into 1MDB; the arrest, immediate transfer and intimidation of top officials of the national investigative and enforcement agencies in the country like the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Police, Bank Negara and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
In the past 12 months, despite being hounded and haunted by the twin RM55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” scandals, Najib seemed to grow from strength to strength until five days ago, when the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed civil suits to seize over US$1 billion assets in the United States which had been stolen, embezzled or defrauded from the people of Malaysia through the national sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.
As the DOJ legal suits were initiated under the US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative 2010, Malaysia overnight achieved a new status – becoming a kleptocracy and one of the most globally corrupt nations!
“Kleptocracy” has been defined as rule by a thief or thieves.
When did Malaysians ever aspire the nation to become a “kleptocracy”?
Although the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself had not been mentioned, the reference of “Malaysian Official 1” which appeared 34 times in the DOJ legal suit can only refer to him.
In fact, the Malaysian Attorney-General’s Chambers acknowledged “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” is none other than Prime Minister Najib in its Internet portal when it uploaded a 17-point “Q&A” on the DOJ suits.
Although the Malaysian AG’s Chamber’s “Q&A” on the DOJ suit acknowledges that “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” is Prime Minister Najib, IT failed to satisfactorily explain the 34 references in the 136-page DOJ suits to “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1”.
The “Q&A” issued by the Attorney-General’s Chambers even failed to give satisfactory rebuttal to one specific statement dealt in the DOJ suits, viz: that the US$681 million in Najib’s personal banking accounts were from 1MDB through Tanore account and not from any Arab royalty.
According to the DOJ, the over US$1 billion assets which are the subject of its forfeiture suits, represent a portion of the proceeds of over US$3.5 billion misappropriated from 1MDB in three phases:
• firstly, the “Good Star” phase where more than US$1 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB from Sept. 2009 to 2011;
• secondly, the “Aabar-BVI” phase in 2012, where approximately US$1.367 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB from two separate bond issues totalling US$3.5 billion arranged by Goldman Sachs International;
• thirdly, the “Tanore” phase, where several individuals, including 1MDB officials, diverted more than US$1.26 billion out of a US$3 billion third bond issue arranged by Goldman in March 2013.
The US$681 million deposit into Najib’s personal banking account occurred in the third “Tanore” phase, after the issue of a US$3 billion Goldman-underwritten bonds in March 2013.
“Eric” Tan Kim Loong (“TAN”), “an associate of Jho Low”, is the stated beneficial owner of Tanore Finance Corporation (“Tanore Account”) and “several bank accounts into which misappropriated 1MDB funds were transferred”.
The following is from the DOJ Suit:
“Section IV. D. $681 million was transferred from the Tanore Account to an account belonging to MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1.
“259. Shortly after proceeds of the 2013 bond sale were diverted to the Tanore account, $681,000,000 was sent from the Tanore Account to a bank account belonging to MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL1.
“260. On or about March 21, 2013, Tanore transferred $620,000,000 into an account at AmBank in Malaysia, whose beneficiary was listed as ‘AMPRIVATE BANKING-MR.’ On or about March 25, 2013, an additional $61,000,000 was wired from the Tanore Acciount to the same account at AmBank, for a total of $681,000,000.
“261. This account belonged to MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1 and is the same account that in 2011 received $20 million from the PETROSAUDI CO-FOUNDER that was traceable to the Good Star Account, as set forth in Section II.G. It is also the same account that in 2012 received at least $30 million from the Blackstone Account that was traceable to the Aabar-BVI Swiss Account and the 2012 bond proceeds, as set forth in Section III.E.3.
“262. On or about August 26, 2013, $620,010,715 was wired from a different account at AmBank to the Tanore Account. This AmBank account also belonged to MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1, and the transfer represented funds from the $681 million payments that were being returned to Tanore.
“263. The Attorney-General of Malaysia publicly stated that he conducted an inquiry into the $681 million payments. In a press release issued on January 26, 2016, the Malaysian Attorney-General confirmed that, ‘the sum of USD681 million (RN2.08 billion) [was] transferred into the personal account of [MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1] between 22.03,2013 and 10.04.2013,’ and that, ‘in August 2013, a sum of USD620 million (RM2.03 billion) was returned by [MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1]…” The Malaysian Attorney-General ultimately characterized the payment of $681 million as a ‘personal donation’ to [MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1] from the Saudi royal family which was given to him without any consideration.”
It is clear that the Malaysian Attorney-General’s Chambers “Q&A” had failed to rebut DOJ case that US$681 million in Najib’s personal account was from 1MDB through the Tancore account and not from any Arab royalty.
Malaysians are entitled to a full answer not only on the US$681 million “donation” to Najib’s personal banking accounts, but all the other references which required 34 mention of “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” in the 136-page DOJ legal suits on forfeiture of over US1billion 1MDB-linked assets in the United States.
[Speech at the Penang DAP SSS (Support, Sympathy, Solidarity) Lim Guan Eng ceramah at Caring Society, Penang on Monday, July 25, 2016 at 10 pm]