Archive for category Financial Scandals

Malaysia’s overdue housecleaning clamor

by Gary Kleiman
Asia Times
August 3, 2015

Malaysia’s stock market was down over 10 percent at end-July after Prime Minister Najib Razak, fighting to extend his six-year tenure in the wake of the 1MDB debt and campaign funding scandal, sacked his deputy and other cabinet members openly challenging him.

His public approval rating at 45 percent has suffered since the United Malay party won re-election last year, despite the opposition getting a larger vote total.

His predecessor Mahathir Mohamed did not think he deserved another term for lack of economic and political vision, as the household debt burden, which soared to 85 percent of GDP through government programs to boost consumption, is no longer sustainable to offset falling oil exports.

Foreign investors, with respective one-third and one-quarter ownership in the local bond and equity markets, were once enthusiastic about early promises to change the state-dominated business and financial sector model. But the results were meager and with the currency now at a 15-year low as the region’s worst performer, aversion is spiking as in the Asian financial crisis aftermath. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia cabinet reshuffle saps confidence

Nyshka Chandran
CNBC
30th July 2015

The hasty top-level reshuffle by Malaysia’s embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak in the wake of a corruption scandal will do little to encourage foreign investment amid an already tense political backdrop and a sustained currency crisis, analysts warn.
Announced on Tuesday, the Cabinet reshuffle involved the sacking of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin after he called on Najib to explain the controversy surrounding a Wall Street Journal (WSJ)report earlier this month that revealed nearly $700 million from quasi-sovereign wealth fund One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was deposited into the Prime Minister’s personal bank accounts. The accusation is particularly explosive given that 1MDB is in debt to the tune of $11 billion.

The Prime Minister has denied accepting money for personal gain and is reportedly considering a defamation lawsuit against the WSJ.

Tuesday’s reshuffle also saw cabinet posts given to four senior members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) – the group overseeing the 1MDB parliamentary investigation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Apandi as the new Attorney-General going to be Najib’s hatchet man to usher a new dark age subjecting national institutions to a second wave of attacks or will he be sentinel to ensure an “enlightened and democratic” Malaysia

The first statement of the new Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali is to justify the removal of his predecessor Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as constitutional and according to law.

Apandi said his predecessor’s rank is not reduced in any way. Are we having two Attorney-Generals in Malaysia – Apandi with all the powers and perks of the office, and Gani, enjoying all the perks but not the powers of Attorney-General?

Apandi said Article 145(6) of the Federal Constitution requiring the setting up of a tribunal for the dismissal of the Attorney-General in the like manner for the removal of a Federal Court judge does not apply, relying fully on Article 145(5) that states that the Attorney-General holds office at the pleasure of the Yang di Pertuan Agong.

I will leave it to the lawyers to address nettlesome question whether Gani’s sudden and summary sacking as Attorney-General on Monday is constitutional or not.

However, in an era when the Government knows best is over, which Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had fully acknowledged when he became Prime Minister more than six years ago, Malaysians are entitled to a full explanation why Gani had been treated so shabbily and humiliatingly that he had been sacked suddenly and summarily after serving for nearly 13 years as AG and will retire in two months’ time on Oct. 6 when he celebrates his 60th birthday.

Gani would not have been taken by surprise by his termination as Attorney-General on Monday if he had applied for early retirement.

Wasn’t he entitled to the basic courtesy of being informed that his tenure as Attorney-General was being terminated, if “health problems” were the real reasons for the termination? Read the rest of this entry »

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The elephant in the room

Khairie Hisyam Aliman
Malay Mail Online
July 27, 2015

JULY 27 — On Sunday, Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan published a 26-point comment on his Facebook page on the suspension of The Edge and the scandal around 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In that posting Datuk Abdul Rahman, also the federal housing minister, makes a long argument for the suspension and other things. You can read it here.

But the heart of the current scandal remains simple.

As BN’s strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman would surely be strategically well aware of the best and most strategic question to strategically answer in order to strategically kill most of the speculation going around on the current scandal, which has evolved beyond just 1MDB.

Did RM2.6 billion in money, not units, make its way to personal bank accounts belonging to the prime minister as alleged by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ)?

Yes?

No?

That’s all we need to know first and foremost. We don’t need yet to hear about what the money was or was not used for, if the transfer happened. Nor do we need yet to hear about whether there was personal gain involved, if the transfer happened. Just yes or no for starters. Read the rest of this entry »

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Why are the lawyers in Cabinet silent about Gani’s sacking as Attorney-General when it is patently unconstitutional and an affront’s to Malaysia’s commitment to uphold the rule of law

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin accepts that it is the Prime Minister’s prerogative to sack the Deputy Prime Minister and to remove any Minister from the Cabinet.

It is for the court of public opinion and history to judge whether the Prime Minister had made a colossal political blunder or had made a brilliant political move.

But has the Prime Minister the prerogative to sack the Attorney-General, the highest legal officer of the land, on his whims and fancies without regard to due process?

The answer must be a firm “No”, for Article 145(6) of the Malaysian Constitution makes it very clear that the Attorney-General “shall not be removed from office, except on the like grounds and in the like manner as a judge of the Federal Court” and Article 125(3) lays down the procedure for the removal of a Federal Court judge, which requires the equivalent of a judicial tribunal to adjudicate his removal whether on the ground of breach of the code of ethics or of inability, from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause, properly to discharge the functions of his office.

The immediate and instant sacking of Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail as Attorney-General, in the manner of the announcement yesterday morning by the Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Dr. Ali Hamsa without Gani even knowing about it beforehand is clearly unconstitutional and an affront to a country which upholds constitutionalism and the rule of law. Read the rest of this entry »

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If PAC probe into 1MDB grinds to a halt, it will be best proof that the overriding objective of the Cabinet reshuffle yesterday was to block, frustrate, sabotage or drag out investigations into biggest financial scandal in nation’s history

Any attempt to halt the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) investigations into the 1MDB scandal will be the best proof that the overriding objective of the Cabinet reshuffle, which saw the sacking of the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Education Minister and the Minister for Rural and Regional Development (one UMNO Deputy President and the other UMNO Vice President) for asking questions about 1MDB which all thinking Malaysians are asking, is to block, frustrate, sabotage or drag out investigations into the biggest financial scandal in the nation’s history.

I am surprised at Datuk Nur Jazlan’s acceptance of the appointment as Deputy Home Minister, for it was only ten days ago that he said publicly that he would rather finish his task as PAC Chairman in the PAC investigations on 1MDB first before accepting any Cabinet appointment.

He even said that this was the first time the chair of the PAC is held by a chartered professional accountant and he wanted to use his experience in politics, accountancy and corporations to steer the PAC especially in the 1MDB issue.

I do not know what made Nur Jazlan change his mind and renege on his public undertaking, especially as he was only offered a Deputy Ministership and not a full Ministerial appointment, but he is guilty of conflict-of-interest when he said yesterday that the PAC probe into the 1MDB is now on hold until the next Parliamentary meeting which is not scheduled to meet until Oct. 19. Read the rest of this entry »

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Facing corruption scandal, Malaysian PM fires officials investigating him

Aljazeera
July 28, 2015

Critics say Najib Razak is trying to avoid prosecution amid allegations that he received $700 million in state funds

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, stung by allegations that he received some $700 million in government money, fired the attorney general who had been investigating him and a deputy who has been among his most prominent critics on Tuesday.

Najib is under increasing pressure over leaked confidential documents that allegedly show the money, from state investment fund 1MDB, went into his personal accounts.

Najib announced over national television Tuesday that his deputy Muhyiddin Yassin will be replaced by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, a Cabinet member who will also retain his home minister portfolio. Earlier Tuesday, the government announced it had terminated the services of Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail.

Najib said he also dropped four other ministers to strengthen his administration and ensure they can “work as a team.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for emergency meeting of Parliament before August 31 for a confidence vote on Prime Minister Najib and his new Cabinet and to ensure comprehensive and unfettered investigations into 1MDB scandal and WSJ reports

The sudden Cabinet reshuffle today, sacking Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and four other Ministers, following the morning shocking sacking of Tan Sri Gani Patail as the Attorney-General more than two months before his retirement on 6th October are the latest panic efforts to salvage the rapidly sinking UMNO/BN coalition which had governed this country for 58 years.

The Cabinet reshuffle today has been described as “rearranging the furniture on the sinking Titanic” and future history will vindicate this description.

The Cabinet reshuffle is not designed to produce a more competent, efficient and professional Cabinet which can save Malaysia from becoming a failed state because of rampant corruption, socio-economic inefficiencies and injustices, and the failure of good governance, but to give Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak a new lease of political life by removing from the Cabinet Ministers who threaten his political future by demanding that the Prime Minister should give proper public explanation and accountability for the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal and the Wall Street Journal allegation that RM2.6 billion had been deposited into his personal accounts before the 13th General Election.

The important Education Ministry has again been split into two Ministries, one for Education and the other Higher Education, but looking at the Ministers and Deputy Ministers assigned to these two critical Ministries, I fully understand the feeling of the Selangor State Assemby Speaker Hannah Yeoh when she tweeted: “I look at the Education Ministry and I want to cry for our children sake.”

My disappointments at the lack of Ministerial leaderships in both the Education and Higher Education Ministries after the reshuffle are summed up in my tweet: “Not inspiring developments that Malaysian education can restore glorious past.”

But the sine qua non dictating the sudden Cabinet reshuffle is not any higher notions of taking Malaysia to greater political, economic, educational and social heights of achievement, but purely to consolidate Najib’s power position by removing all possible threats to his political survival. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib’s Nixon Moment

M. Bakri Musa
www.bakrimusa.com)
28th July 2015

The Special Task Force and Parliamentary Committee investigating 1MDB (Najib Administration’s business entity) are missing the crux of the matter. They are distracted by and consumed with extraneous and irrelevant issues, either through incompetence or on purpose, as being directed to do so.

The consequence is that what was initially a problem of corporate cash-flow squeeze has now degenerated into a full-blown scandal engulfing not only Najib’s leadership but also the national governance. The only redeeming feature is that for once a national crisis does not parallel the country’s volatile racial divide, despite attempts by many to make it so.

Torrent of ink has been expended on that tattooed Swiss national now in a Thai jail, the suspension of The Edge, the threatened lawsuit against the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), and the blocking of the Sarawak Report website. These are but distracting sideshows. Even veteran and hard-nosed observers and commentators are taken in by these distractions.

The central and very simple issue is this: Did Prime Minister Najib divert funds from 1MDB to his private account as alleged by WSJ and others?

The issue is simple because it requires only a brief “Yes” or “No” response. Read the rest of this entry »

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Andai Watergate di Malaysia: satu imaginasi ringkas

Mohsin Abdullah
The Malaysian Insider
27 July 2015

Sebut Watergate umum terus kaitkan dengan skandal politik besar di Amerika Syarikat (AS) pada 1972. Ramai tahu kisahnya. Maka tidak perlu saya mengulangi apa yang orang sudah tahu. Bagi yang “lupa” atau mereka yang mahu imbas kembali sila google.

Pun begitu, bercakap mengenai Watergate dua nama timbul dengan serta merta. Bob Woodward dan Carl Berstein. Kedua-duanya wartawan akhbar The Washington Post yang membongkar skandal itu dengan “bantuan” pemberi maklumat misteri yang mereka gelar “Deep Throat”. Lantas menyaksikan pelbagai siasatan dijalankan sehingga membawa ke Kongres.

Memendekkan cerita yang panjang, kemuncaknya ialah Richard Nixon, presiden AS ketika itu terpaksa meletak jawatan pada 1974. Woodward and Berstein menjadi terkenal. Mendapat bermacam pengiktirafan termasuk memenangi Anugerah Putlizer. Dan buku buku yang mereka tulis menjadi best seller. Read the rest of this entry »

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“It Is The Government That Is Truly Jeopardising Public & National Interests”

By Martin Jalleh

“It Is The Government That Is Truly Jeopardising Public & National Interests”

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I was offered $2.7m for stolen data: Ex-PetroSaudi employee Xavier Andre Justo on the 1MDB saga

Nirmal Ghosh
Straits Times
Bangkok
July 24, 2015

Ex-PetroSaudi employee says he was never paid what prominent Malaysian businessman promised him

Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo – who is now in jail in Thailand in connection with trying to blackmail his former employer, PetroSaudi, which is entangled in a huge scandal involving the Malaysian government – has claimed that he was promised US$2 million (S$2.7 million) in exchange for data he stole from his former employer.

He also told The Straits Times in a prison interview that he was never paid what he was promised by a prominent Malaysian businessman. Justo claimed a deal was reached in Singapore in February on the sale of the documents, which was followed by lengthy discussions on how he would be paid.

The group of people he met in Singapore to negotiate the sale of the data were named in a 22-page confession Justo made to Thai police. He showed a copy of the confession to The Straits Times. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Edge Group Publications Suspended

By John Berthelsen
Asia Sentinel
July 24, 2015

Government action comes as owner, publisher, say they obtained documents through a ruse

The Edge Financial Daily, the country’s leading financial newspaper, and The Edge Weekly have been suspended from publishing for three months by Malaysian authorities for reporting on the scandal-tarred 1 Malaysia Development Bhd development fund that authorities said was “prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion.” It also stated that the reporting on 1MDB was “likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest.”

The suspension is unprecedented. Last week, the government also blocked The Sarawak Report, written by Clare Rewcastle Brown from the UK, which has been equally critical of the government. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has been tied directly to the scandal by reports that US$680 million had been spirited from 1MDB-related companies into his personal accounts.

Tong Kooi Ong, the owner of The Edge Group, and Ho Kay Tat, the publisher, have both been threatened with arrest. Ho was forced to report to the police on July 22 and was questioned for two hours over the paper’s publication of a 3,800 word on July 21 report describing in deep detail, with flow charts, how money had flowed out of 1MDB into PetroSaudi International, a Middle East-based oil exploration company, and that US$1.83 billion allegedly was stolen by company officers and others. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib intends to roll on, not over

Economist
Jul 25th 2015 | KUALA LUMPUR

Soldiering on – Malaysia’s prime minister battles claims of corruption

WHATEVER the truth of them, the accusations levelled against Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, have astonished a country that some had thought inured to scandal. In early July the Wall Street Journal reported that it had seen documents produced by government investigators suggesting that nearly $700m from companies linked to a troubled state-backed investment fund had been paid into what they believed to be Mr Najib’s personal bank accounts. With worries about an oil-dependent economy, the controversy is the last thing Malaysia needs.

The allegation is that the money was received shortly before the general election in 2013, in which a coalition dominated by Mr Najib’s party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) scraped home, despite narrowly losing the popular vote. The prime minister helped launch the fund, known as 1MDB, in 2009 and chairs its board of advisers. It has acquired land and power plants, yet has struggled to service debts of around $11 billion. The firm’s affairs were already the subject of official investigations, but until this month no one had claimed to have evidence that the prime minister himself had received any money. Read the rest of this entry »

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Based on reasons given by Home Ministry for 3-month suspension of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily, will 1MDB become a new “sensitive” issue which will attract the full weight of Najib’s law if discussed or mentioned?

The Home Ministry’s secretary-general, Alwi Ibrahim has given three reasons for suspending The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily for three months, from July 27.

Firstly, the headings and reporting by the two publications has raised questions and created negative public perceptions towards 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and also implicated the government and national leaders.

Secondly, the published news reports were based on doubtful and unverified information, which might alarm public opinion and could/might be prejudicial to public order and national interest.

Thirdly, the 1MDB issue is being investigated by an investigation team that has been set up. Therefore, it is inappropriate for the reporting (on the issue) to create negative perceptions and done continuously, and it is unfair for 1MDB and consequently for the government and national leaders.

Based on the reasons given by Home Ministry for the three-month suspension of The Edge Weekly and The Edge Financial Daily, will 1MDB become a new “sensitive” issue which will attract the full weight of Najib’s law if discussed or mentioned? Read the rest of this entry »

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Are we allowed to ask what happened to 1MDB?

Zan Azlee
The Malaysian Insider
24 July 2015

Malaysia is being plagued by one of its biggest scandals and it is even getting significant attention from the international community. You know it – the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Sure, it’s a difficult issue for a lot of people to understand, me included. Complicated financial transactions and business negotiations can confuse a lot of people, even the experts.

But as the case develops and more media agencies cover the unfolding story, people understand it better and better. And when people start understanding it better, the more questions get asked. Read the rest of this entry »

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The least Abdul Rahman should do as BN strategic communications director is to get Najib to declare at the PM’s birthday bash tonight where the RM2.6 billion in his personal bank accounts in AmBank in March 2013 came from and to whom and where they have gone to

Minister for Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan will be guilty of the greatest national disservice if the sole agenda of his appointment as Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications Director is to distract attention from Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) July 2 report that Malaysian government investigators have found US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) deposited into the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal accounts in AmBank in 2013 just before the 13th General Election instead of helping to establish the facts of the Prime Minister’s alleged RM2.6 billion personal accounts.

Since his sudden appearance as BN Strategic Communications Director the previous Wednesday, Rahman had got so much eggs on his face, and on a daily basis, that it is virtually impossible to find a centimeter on his face which is not egg-splattered – whether because of Rahman’s “God-send” Lester Melyani; Lester’s utterly discredited video confession even before all the parts had been aired publicly; the crazy and counter-productive notion for Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to block access to Sarawak Report (forcing Malaysians to undergo an instant education of how to circumvent official Internet blocks) or the hyping of patriotic and valiant efforts to pry open the RM42 billion 1MDB financial scandal whether by journalists in the Edge or by MPs like Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli as offences like “activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy”, sabotage, “toppling the elected government” or even treason! Read the rest of this entry »

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Useless watchdogs, Tinju Dunia and 1MDB

Rama Ramanathan
The Malaysian Insider
23 July 2015

“It would appear… [that] Cerberus, the mythological three-headed hound guarding the gates of Hell, virtually guided and controlled the destinies of the Bank and held its fortunes in [the hands of the 3 accused]. The analogy is perhaps not inappropriate in view of the canine element injected into these proceedings, what with references to watchdogs, toothless, barkless, spineless, chained and all, Government or otherwise, and not forgetting the Press hounds.”

That quote is from Justice Abdoolcader’s 1976 judgment (upheld on appeal in 1978) at the conclusion of the 2 months long trial of Datuk Haji Harun bin Haji Idris & 2 others.

Abdoolcader explicated various aspects of the law. And, in ripe words, he caricatured the so-called watchdogs: toothless, barkless, spineless, chained. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib is taking Malaysia to his Vision 2020 of a “banana republic” and not a fully developed nation under original Vision 2020

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, clearly has a very different Vision 2020 from former premier Tun Mahathir, for from what is happening in recent days, weeks and months, Najib is taking Malaysia to his Vision 2020 of a “banana republic” and not a fully developed nation under the original Vision 2020.

It is only in a “banana republic” where the principles of accountability, transparency and good governance are totally alien in practice, whatever the hifalutin slogans eulogising them, that there is a Prime Minister who could keep dumb for close to three weeks about allegations in an internationally reputable newspaper that Malaysian government investigators have found US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) had been deposited into the Prime Minister’s personal bank accounts just before the previous general elections in 2013, without being frank and truthful where the RM2.6 billion came from, where and to whom they had gone to – as the Prime Minister had tacitly admitted the deposits into his private bank accounts by repeating the refrain in the past three weeks that he had not taken funds for personal gain.

It is only in a “banana republic” that either the entire or the overwhelming majority of the Cabinet is “suspect” and “tainted” of having received improper funding from these personal banking accounts of the Prime Minister for the 13th General Election campaign, and for three weeks, the Ministers dare not make any statement to clear themselves of such impropriety, malpractices and conflict of interest.

No wonder former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir in his blog “Conspiracy” on 20th July 2015 commented:

“11. To all comments made against 1MDB, the standard answer is to deny, to say “No it is not true.” It is like somebody upon being asked whether he had stolen the money as alleged, simply denies that he had stolen, expecting the judge to acquit him simply because he denied.

“12. There is no denial that money was deposited in the private account. The explanation to UMNO is that it was for the elections. UMNO seems satisfied. Don’t they know that Government money cannot be used to help a political party to win elections? But the money was from donation. Who donated 2 billion Ringgit? No answer.”

Read the rest of this entry »

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Travel ban on MPs, media owner politically motivated, says lawyers’ group

The Malaysian Insider
22 July 2015

Putrajaya’s move to prevent two lawmakers and a media owner from leaving the country is politically motivated, legal rights advocacy group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) said today.

Its executive director, Eric Paulsen, said barring opposition MPs Tony Pua and Rafizi Ramli, as well as The Edge Media Group owner Datuk Tong Kooi Ong, from leaving the country was likely due to their criticism and exposes on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Paulsen said the authorities should remember that freedom of movement was guaranteed under the federal constitution.

Freedom of movement was also subject to security, public order, public health and the punishment of offenders, but Paulsen said these reasons were not applicable to the trio who are barred from leaving Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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