I fully agree with the statement by human rights group Proham that allegations of criminal breach of trust surrounding state-owned fund 1MDB is not the sole responsibility of its former chief executive officer.
Responding to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report on 1MDB, Proham chairperson Kuthubul Zaman Bukhari and secretary-general Denison Jayasooria in a joint statement expressed shock over the disclosure of weak governance structure and monitoring instituted for such huge sums of public funds.
They said: “We express deep concern over the failure of the board of directors, the advisory council and the Finance Ministry to institute adequate checks and balances.
“We are not in agreement that the criminal breach of trust lies solely on the CEO of 1MDB and therefore the speedy release of the auditor-general’s report is imperative.”
The 106-page Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report on 1MDB, released in the Dewan Rakyat on April 7 had, among others, urged authorities to probe 1MDB former chief executive officer Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi and others in the management.
Shahrol Azral, however, had stressed that there was no wrongdoing or illegal activity at the company under his watch.
The PAC, in its 1MDB Governance Management Control Report said Shahrol Azral must take responsibility for the government-owned strategic investment company’s weaknesses and shortcomings.
It is impossible that Shahrol was solely responsible for the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal as Shahrol was 1MDB director for the past seven year since the inception of 1MDB and even when it was Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), apart from being the Chief Executive Officer for four years from 2009 to 2013.
On the Internet, Shahrol’s c.v. refers to him as “an expert in value creation in multiple sectors”, and although Shahrol has proved to be a great disaster in the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal, I am strongly convinced that he is unfairly blamed by the PAC Report as the worst culprit in the 1MDB scandal.
This is why I am extending to Shahrol an open invitation to the Wednesday forum in Shah Alam on “Has the PAC Report on 1MDB exonerated Prime Minister Najib from wrongdoings in RM50 billion 1MDB scandal?”, where he would have the opportunity to ask the PAC Chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin in a face-to-face encounter whether he (Shahrol) was indeed the worst and major culprit in the RM50 billion 1MDB global scandal.
In fact, the so-far mysterious Penang billionaire who was the mover-and-shaker of the 1MDB venture, Jho Low, is also welcome to attend and answer all charges against him at the Wednesday forum in Shah Alam on “Has the PAC Report on 1MDP exonerated Prime Minister Najib from wrongdoings in RM50 billion 1MDB scandal?”
There are many questions Jho Low has to answer for about the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal, not least of which is about the transfer of US$700 million to Good Star Limited in 2009 (Wall Street Journal has claimed that Good Star Limited is a company controlled by Jho Low) as the 1MDB Board of Directors had never approved such a transfer.
In its 1MDB report, the PAC said on Sept 30, 2009, Bank Negara had approved for the transfer of US$1 billion into the 1MDB-PetroSaudi (PSI) joint venture account.
On the same day, US$300 million was transferred into the JV accounts in JP Morgan (Suisse) SA.
“However, the remaining US$700 million was transferred to an account in RBS Coutts Bank Ltd belonging to a different company not related to the joint venture.
“Based on documents furnished by (former 1MDB CEO) Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi on June 5, 2015, and his statement during the PAC hearing on Nov 25, the account belongs to Good Star Limited, which is a subsidiary of the PetroSaudi group since Sept 1, 2009.
“Checks by the PAC found that there was no approval by the 1MDB board of directors for the transfer of funds into two separate accounts.”
The mysterious and unauthorised payment of US$700 million from 1MDB to Good Star Limited on Sept. 30, 2009 led to the protest and resignation of Felda Holdings managing director Bakke Mohd Salleh from the 1MDB Board of Directors on Oct. 19, 2009 – the only honourable, honest and decent act to have emerged from the RM50 billion 1MDB global scandal so far.
The Shah Alam forum on Wednesday would be a great opportunity for Jho Low to clear such controversies.
With Hasan Arifin, Shahrol and possibly Jho Low, apart from DAP PAC member Tony Pua and myself, participating in the Shah Alam forum on Wednesday on “Has the PAC Report on 1MDP exonerated Prime Minister Najib from wrongdoings in RM50 billion 1MDB scandal?”, what could be the excuse for the Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak to refuse to televise live the forum through the slot of RTM programme called “Democracy”?