Archive for category Financial Scandals

Would a person like Najib have survived as China’s top leader with two mega scandals swirling around him causing the country to be named No. 3 in world’s “worst corruption scandals in 2015” and the subject of investigation by seven different countries, including by US FBI, whether he is a kleptocrat?

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali allowed a rare but very insightful though frightening peep into his mind in his interview with Sin Chew Daily today.

Apandi’s interview deserve fuller dissection and analysis, but for the immediate moment, what warrants immediate response is the revelation that the Attorney-General is mulling laws to increase the punishment of those who leak state secrets and journalists who report, and that the Attorney-General’s Chambers is proposing to amend the Official Secrets Act 1972 to include life imprisonment and 10 strokes of the rotan as punishments.

Apandi said: “In some countries, the leaking of official secrets is a serious offence, like in China where it carries the death sentence.”

Apandi insisted that should journalists protect or refuse to reveal the sources by invoking journalistic ethics, they will be considered collaborating with a potential saboteur.

“We may charge journalists who refuse to reveal their sources.

“I am not joking. If I have 90 percent of evidence, I will charge the journalist, editor, assistant editor and editor-in-chief. I am serious, no kidding. We have too many leakage of secrets in Malaysia.

“The right to know is not granted by the constitution.”

This must be the first time the Attorney-General of Malaysia expressed admiration and envy for the laws and system in China, as it had never been done by his predecdessors. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mystery of Najib Razak’s $990m donor deepens in Malaysia

Lindsay Murdoch
Sydney Morning Herald
February 7, 2016

Bangkok: Mystery has deepened over the circumstances in which almost $US700 million ($990 million) was secretly deposited in the personal bank account of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The country’s attorney-general, Mohamad Apanda Ali, has declared the money was a donation from one of the nine sons of the late Saudi king Abdullah, but insists the motive is nobody else’s business.

“Why are people asking for the reason for the donation? You have to ask the donor. He has billions in his coffers … if he wanted to give the money, what’s the problem?” Mr Apandi told the Sin Chew Daily newspaper.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir says he does not think the money came from the Saudi government or that it was a political donation.

“It is a private Saudi citizen, I believe, and the funds went into an investment in Malaysia,” Mr Jubeir told The New York Times. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s curious corruption case

By: Simon Wilson
Money Week

A state fund transferring a $681m donation to the PM’s account, dissenting ministers sacked and $4bn misappropriated – Malaysian democracy is under threat, says Simon Wilson.

What’s going on in Malaysia?

The government of Prime Minister Najib Razak has been rocked by a huge corruption scandal that gets more bizarre with every new twist, threatening to blow a hole in Malaysia’s credibility with international markets. At its heart is a state investment fund known as 1MDB, set up at Razak’s behest shortly after he came to power in 2009, and whose advisory board he chairs. Its purpose
was to borrow money so that it could attract foreign investment to stimulate Malaysia’s economy.

But according to The Wall Street Journal, which has been at the forefront of investigating and reporting the scandal, while 1MDB was good at borrowing money, it has been less adept at actually investing it. In early 2015, it defaulted on payments on the roughly $11bn it had raised from international investors, setting off alarm bells and sparking investigations into the fund. Read the rest of this entry »

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No End to Scrutiny Over Millions Sent to Malaysian Leader’s Accounts

New York Times
FEB. 5, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — After Malaysia’s attorney general cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of corruption charges involving hundreds of millions of dollars that ended up in his bank accounts, Mr. Najib issued a statement of his own.

“The matter has been comprehensively put to rest,” he said last week. “It is time for us to unite and move on.”

That has not happened.

Instead of answering the questions about the money and its possible links to a heavily indebted Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, the attorney general’s announcement has only sharpened them. Read the rest of this entry »

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France Probes Possible Bribes in 2002 Malaysia Submarine Sale

Geraldine Amiel and Pooi Koon Chong
February 5, 2016

French financial prosecutors said they have started a formal probe into whether bribes were paid by Thales SA officials to secure the sale in 2002 of two submarines to Malaysia for more than $1.2 billion.

Prosecutors placed former Thales International Asia President Bernard Baiocco under investigation for “active corruption of foreign governmental officials” and are seeking to determine if “kickbacks” were used to win the contract, a spokesman for the French national prosecutor’s office said Friday, asking to remain anonymous in line with office policy.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was defense minister in 2002, is a suspect in the case, a French official said, asking not to be named because of the sensitivity of the investigation. The Financial Times reported earlier that Najib is suspected of receiving one of the bribes, along with his associate Abdul Razak Baginda.

Najib’s office said the allegations were “baseless smears for political gain.”
Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Anti-Graft Efforts Haven’t Put Investors at Ease

Andrea Tan and Pooi Koon Chong
February 5, 2016

Bank accounts frozen. Bankers quizzed. As offshore authorities seek to track money flows involving Malaysia’s troubled government investment fund, fresh questions are rising about doing business in the country.

Crisscrossing countries from Switzerland to the U.S., Middle East and Singapore, investigators are chasing a trail of transactions linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd. With the probes potentially running for years, investors and analysts say it may damage the perception that Malaysia is trying to become a more transparent place.

The risk is political, economic and commercial. Debt-ridden 1MDB, which is in the process of being broken up, was touted as the vehicle for the government to spur growth, investing mainly in property and power generation. Prime Minister Najib Razak — who has faced a separate furor over a $681 million personal donation from the Saudi royal family — sits on its advisory board.

The premier was cleared of any graft, and $620 million of the funds were returned. He and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing.

“The scandal has thrown Malaysia’s governance failings – both political and economic – into sharp relief,” said Nicholas Spiro, a partner at London-based Lauressa Advisory Ltd. “The 1MDB scandal raises the stakes significantly.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Nazir warns of 1MDB scandal fallout

By Martin Jalleh

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What the 1MDB scandal means for democracy in Malaysia

Iain Marlow
The Globe and Mail
Feb. 04, 2016

Singaporean authorities this week seized a number of bank accounts linked to Malaysia’s beleaguered state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd., as part of an ongoing international investigation into alleged corruption that has ensnared Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The move is the latest twist in a global investigation centred on an unusual payment of $681-million (U.S.) from accounts and companies linked to 1MDB into the private accounts of Mr. Najib, who founded and chairs 1MDB. As the investigations continue, Malaysia’s government has undertaken a widespread crackdown on dissidents and dismissed critical politicians – outraging human-rights groups. The eventual conclusion of a domestic investigation by the country’s Attorney-General – that the cash was a donation from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and has since mostly been returned – has not stopped other investigations by U.S. and Swiss authorities. Read the rest of this entry »

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Do we have to wait until 1MDB scandal become the norm in Malaysia which will see the country competing with Somali, North Korea, Afghanistan and Sudan for the last four spots on the TI CPI?

Those who still believe in the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and suffer from the illusion spread by Najib in his 2016 New Year Message that the Prime Minister’s twin world-class RM2.6 “political donation” and the RM55 billion 1MDB mega scandals have been resolved and are no more issues need only to refer today’s news portals, both locally and internationally, to realise how wrong they are.

It is supreme irony that Najib’s very own Ministers are among those in the forefront debunking the Prime Minister’s delusion that his twin mega scandals are no more issues as they had been resolved.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar said that 1MDB was the exception in the anti-graft movement among Malaysian companies, claiming that most other Malaysian companies have made good progress in improving transparency.

Goodness me, do we have to wait until 1MDB scandal become the norm for all GLCs in Malaysia which will see the country competing with Somali, North Korea, Afghanistan and Sudan for the last four spots on Transparency International’s annual Corruption Perception Index? Read the rest of this entry »

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Is Najib getting stronger and stronger with scandal after scandal?

The embattled Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib has won another victory with the toppling of Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir as Kedah Mentri Besar and his replacement by Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah.

With a State Assembly of 36 State Assembly representatives, 21 from Barisan Nasional and 15 from the Opposition comprising PAS 8, PKR 4, DAP 2 and Amanah 1, Mukhriz’s position as Kedah Mentri Besar would be untouchable if he could secure the support of at least four UMNO/BN Assembly representatives (including himself).

This is because with 17 out of 36 State Assembly votes, the Bashah faction would not be able to muster the necessary majority to force a change of the Mentri Besar without convening a State Assembly meeting for a vote-of-confidence vote.

The UMNO/BN machination to get rid of Mukhriz as Kedah Mentri Besar must ensure that it collectively commands 18 votes, as in a 18-18 tie, the un-elected Speaker would be able to cast his vote on the side of the Bashah group to topple Mukhriz.

Any other scenario would be unthinkable, as it would mean that Mukhriz had been forced to step down as Mentri Besar by a minority of UMNO/BN Assembly representatives.

It is indeed a great paradox in Malaysian politics, that Najib seems to be getting stronger and stronger despite “scandal after scandal”. Read the rest of this entry »

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The world is closing in on Malaysia’s insular ruling elite

by Greg Earl
Australian Financial Review
Feb 3 2016

There was a time when a Malaysian leader only had to slug it out in the opaque but tough forum of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) to remain in power.

And tough it certainly has been, with a leader or rising deputy ruthlessly shoved aside usually amid outbreaks of Malay chauvinism about once a decade during the almost 60 years UMNO has been in power.

Prime Minister Najib Razak produced a masterful performance at the party conference late last year drawing on Malay feudal notions of loyalty and more modernist Islamic principles to fend off a corruption scandal, a weak economy and criticism by his deputy.

Last week the Attorney-General Apandi Ali seemed to take his cue from the conference and declare that there was nothing more to investigate about one of the world’s most amazing political funding sagas in which the Saudi royal family put US$680 million in Najib’s private bank accounts in the run-up to the 2013 election. And after a budget adjustment to cope with the emerging market uncertainty, the attorney-general appeared to clear the way for the prime minister to celebrate his 40 years in politics. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s 1MDB Scandal: You Couldn’t Make It Up

Barron’s Asia
February 3, 2016

While Swiss and Singapore officials turn up the heat, Prime Minister Najib Razak hides his head in the sand.

I don’t know who Najib Razak’s friends are in Saudi Arabia, but I sure want a few.

Who wouldn’t covet a pal or two willing to toss you $700 million as a “gift,” no strings attached? That’s at least the Malaysian prime minister’s story, and he’s sticking to it. Politicians overseas, meanwhile, would sure love to have Najib’s electorate. Since the Wall Street Journal broke news of his good fortune, Najib has displayed a fatalistic willingness to take an entire economy down so he can stay in office. And his party harbors little fear of losing power.

There’s the “Twilight Zone” and there’s the “Malaysia Zone,” and just try discerning the difference. Najib-gate grew even more surreal last week when Malaysia’s attorney general suddenly cleared him of criminal or corruption charges. In a hastily-arranged press conference, Mohamed Apandi Ali said Najib had returned all but $61 million of that “donation” from the Saudi royal family. Somehow, Apandi kept a straight face as he declared the matter closed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabinet today must take cognisance and act on the government failure to resolve Najib’s twin mega scandals by end of last year and the national and international firestorm over Apandi’s decision to exonerate Najib

The Cabinet at its meeting today must take cognisance and act on the government’s failure to resolve Najib’s twin world-class mega scandals by the end of last year and the national and international firestorm over Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali’s decision to exonerate Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak of any wrongdoing or crime and that no charges would be brought against him in both the RM2.6 billion donation and RM42 million SRC International scandals.

Far from Najib’s upbeat forecast in his 2016 New Year Message that his twin world-class mega scandals had been resolved and no more issues in the country, the very opposite occurred as his RM2.6 billion “donation” and RM55 billion 1MDB twin mega scandals have in the month of January 2016 mushroomed to unprecedented levels.

As a result, both Najib and Malaysia’s credibility and image have never suffered such serious dent, both nationally and internationally.

Four months ago, in a historic statement on Oct. 6, the Malay Rulers directed Putrajaya to ensure that 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal was thoroughly investigated and for those found guilty of wrongdoing to be punished.

The Malay Rulers also said that investigations must be made public in order to show that nothing was being hidden in the probe on the state-owned investment firm.

The Malay Rulers joint statement said: “The findings of the investigation must be reported comprehensively and in a transparent manner so that the people will be convinced of the sincerity of the government which shall not at all conceal facts and the truth.”

But none of the Malay Rulers’ concerns has been addressed, and not a single person had been punished for the world-class twin mega scandals which have given Malaysia the ignominious third ranking in the world’s “worst corruption scandals in 2015” and caused Malaysia’s ranking in the Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perception Index to plunge four places to No. 54 from No. 50 last year.

And nothing has been revealed to Malaysians about the investigations into the twin mega scandals “so that the people will be convinced of the sincerity of the government which shall not at all conceal facts and the truth”!

The promise by the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, who responded to the Malay Rulers’ Statement with the pledge that Putrajaya was taking proactive measures to address concerns raised by the Malay Rulers over 1MDB, have come to nought.

Hence the national and international firestorm over Attorney-General Apandi’s decision. Read the rest of this entry »

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Twists and turns of Najib’s RM2.6 billion

Published: 31 January 2016 7:00 AM
The Malaysian Insider

When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the RM2.6 billion donation controversy has been “comprehensively put to rest”, the Internet promptly responded with memes ridiculing the attorney-general’s (A-G) decision to close the case.

From comedians to artists, local blogs to international news wires, many found it hard to believe that it was okay for a leader of a democratic country to accept billions of ringgit from an unidentified foreign funder.

Najib urged Malaysians to “move on” from the issue but questions still abound despite the A-G’s findings that there was insufficient evidence to implicate Najib.

The Malaysian Insider revisits what is known so far about the billions in his account, since July 2 last year when The Wall Street Journal first broke the news that RM2.6 billion was channelled into Najib’s private bank accounts.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Swiss 1MDB probe holds fat tail risks for Malaysia

By Una Galani
Reuters Breakingviews
February 1, 2016

It’s hard to bury a big scandal. That is the awkward lesson that Najib Razak is learning. The Malaysian prime minister is attempting to draw a line under a multi-pronged financial controversy that almost toppled him. But initial findings from Switzerland’s attorney general that around $4 billion may have been misappropriated from Malaysian state firms is a sharp reminder of the lingering threat posed by foreign investigations.

Even by the standards of Malaysian politics, it has been an extraordinary few days. On Jan. 26, the country’s chief prosecutor concluded that $681 million that was transferred into the Prime Minister’s personal account in 2013 was a donation from the royal family in Saudi Arabia, not money from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, an indebted fund he championed. Najib was cleared of graft. Three days later, however, Swiss authorities published preliminary conclusions from its own probe into 1MDB which found that billions may have been squirreled away between 2009 and 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia stifles dissent as public unrest grows

Jeevan Vasagar and Michael Peel
Financial Times
February 2, 2016

Malaysia’s government has been battered by international allegations of corruption on a grand scale — yet at home prime minister Najib Razak appears as secure as ever.

While Kuala Lumpur is under pressure from global regulators, with both Switzerland and Singapore shining a light on alleged misconduct, the prime minister’s tightened grip on power has raised concern about growing authoritarianism.

Over the past six months, as controversy raged over $680m transfers into his bank account, Mr Najib has replaced the country’s attorney-general and sacked a critical deputy prime minister. Meanwhile, his administration has imposed travel bans on opponents and rushed through legislation Malaysia’s bar council describes as a “lurch towards an authoritarian government”. Read the rest of this entry »

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Foreign governments pile pressure on Malaysia over financial scandals

The Malaysian Insider
2 February 2016

Malaysia may have absolved its prime minister in a huge corruption scandal, but foreign authorities investigating suspicious global fund flows are making clear the affair is far from over and that the net may be tightening.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali last week cleared Datuk Seri Najib Razak of wrongdoing in accepting a mysterious US$681 million payment (RM2.6 billion) from overseas, sparking accusations of a cover-up in a case that has shaken Najib’s government to its core.

But within days, authorities in Switzerland and Singapore upped the pressure, pointedly responding that investigations into an array of Malaysian money movements were forging ahead and releasing new information. Read the rest of this entry »

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A simple and straightforward answer of “Yes” or “No” from Apandi whether he tried to persuade Swiss Attorney-General to drop 1MDB-related investigations last September

The Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali should give a simple and straightforward answer of “Yes” or “No” whether he had tried to persuade the Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber to drop 1MDB-related investigations, and if so, the reasons for his request and whether he had the sanction of the Prime Minister or the Cabinet for such a request to his Swiss counterpart.

The attempt by the Malaysian authorities to get the Swiss Attorney-General’s Office to drop 1MDB-related investigations came to light in the Reuters report entitled “Swiss AG suspects US$4 billion (RM16.6 billion) misappropriated, seeks Malaysia’s help” last Friday which referred to a meeting in Zurich in September last year where Lauber had discussed the 1MDB case with his Malaysian counterpart.

The Reuters report stated:

“Sources familiar with the September discussion between the two law enforcement officials said that the Malaysian official strongly urged Lauber to abandon his 1MDB-related investigation.”

If Apandi had tried to persuade the Swiss authorities to drop its 1MDB-related investigations, then his recent statement that he will co-operate with his Swiss counterparts regarding 1MDB-related investigations will have to be taken with a huge pinch of salt. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib Razak puts Malaysia’s reputation at risk over mind-boggling donations scandal

Sydney Morning Herald
February 2, 2016

It’s almost a year since Malaysia’s highest court upheld the five-year jail sentence of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on a dubious charge of sodomy.

So, from the spartan jail cell with a squat toilet and a thin foam mattress on the floor as described by his lawyers, Mr Anwar is not in a position to comment on the deteriorating state of democracy in his country.

We can’t know whether he shares the dismay and despair of many ordinary Malaysians at the wave of repression that has occurred since his jailing. We don’t know what he thinks about the government’s attempts to keep a lid on the mind-boggling scandal in which a $US681 million no-strings-attached gift attributed to the Saudi royal family found its way into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s personal bank account. But we could guess.

This week Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali issued a “move along, nothing to see” order to anyone worried about the donation of such a princely sum to a sitting Prime Minister’s personal bank account in a country claiming to be a representative democracy. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Observer view on corruption in Malaysia

Observer editorial
Sunday 31 January 2016

There is, rightly, widespread concern over Najib and a democratic deficit

Dato’ Sri Mohamed Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak was born to rule. Son of Malaysia’s second post-independence prime minister and nephew of its third, he entered parliament at the age of 23, inheriting his father’s seat and was handed several senior portfolios before being appointed prime minister himself in 2009.

Najib heads the powerful United Malays National Organisation (Umno), the pre-eminent political force. His national and personal dominance symbolises the bumiputera (ethnic Malay) ascendancy in a country with large, constitutionally disadvantaged ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities.

But as the intense firestorm sparked by last week’s arbitrary dismissal of potentially career-ending corruption allegations against him suggests, Najib is also seen by growing numbers of fellow citizens as unfit to rule the country whose leadership he inherited as if by right. His time in government, especially since the 2013 general election, has brought an expansion of repressive laws, multiplying human rights abuses and curbs on media freedoms more reminiscent of Russia than of a supposedly functional, pro-western democracy closely allied to Britain and the US. Read the rest of this entry »

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