US Lawsuit Against Malaysia’s 1MDB: Who is ‘Official 1’?

By Mong Palatino
The Diplomat
July 29, 2016

The clues point to only one person.

The United States Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against some individuals accused of using an investment firm owned by the Malaysian government to steal more than $1 billion.

The lawsuit also mentioned a certain “Malaysian Official 1,” prompting many to ask if it refers to Prime Minister Najib Razak since he has control over the 1Malaysian Development Berhad (1MDB) investment firm and his stepson is one of the accused.

The lawsuit aims to recover some 17 assets in the United States, which have been allegedly acquired through 1MDB funds.

U.S. officials said the lawsuit is the “largest single action ever brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.” They vowed to return the funds to the Malaysian people.

“The Department of Justice will not allow the American financial system to be used as a conduit for corruption. With this action, we are seeking to forfeit and recover funds that were intended to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people. Instead, they were stolen, laundered through American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates,” an excerpt of the statement issued by the U.S. DOJ reads.

“The United States will not be a safe haven for assets stolen by corrupt foreign officials,” said Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. “Public corruption, no matter where it occurs, is a threat to a fair and competitive global economy.

Najib is suspected by many to be the “Malaysian Official 1,” who is cited 36 times in the 136-page lawsuit. It’s not the first time that his name has been implicated in a corruption scandal. Previously, he has been accused of pocketing more than $600 million dollars through anomalous transactions. He didn’t deny ownership of these dollar bank accounts but he claimed the funds were a political donation from a royal family in Saudi Arabia.

If more hints are needed about the identity of “Malaysian Official 1,” many Malaysians believe the text of the lawsuit provides enough evidence.

For example, paragraph 28 of the report describes “Malaysian official 1″ as “a high-ranking official in the Malaysian Government who also held a position of authority with 1MDB.”

Paragraph 29 names Najib’s stepson: “Riza Shahriz bin Abdul Aziz (‘Aziz), a Malaysian national, is a relative of Malaysian Official 1.”

Paragraph 39 details some of the powers of the prime minister. “Malaysian Official 1 had the authority to approve all appointment to, and removals from, 1MDB’s Board of Directors and 1MDB’s Senior Management Team. In addition, any financial commitment by 1MDB, including investments, that are likely to affect a guarantee given by the Government of Malaysia for the benefit of 1MDB or any policy of the Malaysian Government, required the approval of Malaysian Official1.”

Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is calling for the resignation of Najib, urged the United States to name Najib in the lawsuit.

“If the U.S. really believes in eradicating corruption and money laundering which involves their country, they should not be shy about naming names and letting due process to take place,” he wrote in his blog.

“Merely seizing the stolen money does not nullify the crime. The only logical sequence to the seizures of stolen money is the criminal charge against the thieves. How is the DOJ of the USA going to charge the Malaysian Official 1 without naming him?” Mahathir added.

Interestingly, Najib’s camp is challenging the Malaysian citizens named in the lawsuit to clear their own names. Najib’s supporters are also asserting that there is no need for the prime minister to present counter evidence since his name is not mentioned in the report.

There seems little debate about the identity of “Malaysian Official 1.” For majority of Malaysians, it’s none other than Najib. Hopefully, the U.S. DOJ report will help Malaysians retrieve the stolen funds and assets; and more importantly, seek justice against the well-entrenched kleptocrats.

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  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Friday, 29 July 2016 - 10:38 am

    Anyone who question who is Malaysian Official 1 is simply arguing about ENTITLEMENT. Its not about the burden and standard of proof. Najib is guilty no matter at the most generous standards given.

    The issue really is does Lying, Theft and Abuse of Power part of UMNO/Malay elite’s entitlement given its history? Truths is we have always known they lied, steal and abuse power. Are they allowed to continue? After all we continue to have economic growth, there is relative peace, continue building of infrastructure.

    BUT WE KNOW the system is straining, the lying, theft and abuse is to the point of destroying very fundamental nature of the nation. Its pivotal time for the issues. Its not about punishing Najib and cohorts. Its about changing the course of the nation, not the physical part but the system, ideas. That is why Sarawak and Adenan (and Sabah) is wrong. That is why the poor Indians are wrong, that is why PAS and over-religious is wrong, that is why rural folks are wrong,

  2. #2 by good coolie on Friday, 29 July 2016 - 3:50 pm

    Thank you for the game-show where we get to find out the name of M.O.1 (clues: it is not the car number-plate costing 2.6 billion ringgit); plus other clues Uncle Sam is giving us). Is not Uncle scared that “Malaysian No.1 Enemy of ISIS” is going to be pushed out by his own doting party (New, Unfresh Umno)?

    Another Clue: M.O.1 could be the enemy of the enemy of democracy, enemy of the pot that is calling the kettle black!

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