Two days ago, I posed five questions to the “alpha and omega” of Malaysia’s first global financial scandal, Penang-born billionaire Jho Low, but as expected, no answer had been forthcoming.
In the past 48 hours, there had been more world-wide developments in Malaysia’s first global financial scandal, a salutary reminder that in the borderless world of 24/7 era of information, where information travels at the speed of light, it is no more possible for one country to sweep scandals under the carpet, especially when the financial scandal is of global reach and dimension like the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal.
In Malaysia, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak can try to impose a total clamp on all investigations and information about the 1MDB scandal, and even virtually ban discussion on the subject in the highest legislative and political chamber in the land, Parliament, but what is the purpose of such puny national efforts at censorship when the global community and some ten countries are conducting separate investigations related to the 1MDB scandal?
Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal has been described by the influential financial weekly, the Economist, as “an important test of how the world deals with cross-border corruption”, especially after the leaking of the Panama papers – after describing investigations within Malaysia as have been “timid or stymied”.
Such adverse international commentary on the 1MDB scandal a fortnight after the tabling of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report on 1MDB to Parliament vindicated what I had said right from the beginning – that Najib was wrong in regarding the PAC Report as a “comprehensive, conclusive and definitive report” on 1MDB when it was only the first step to reveal and unveil the full “horrors” of Malaysia’s first global financial scandal.
The Economist’s comments came just weeks after Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) warned that Switzerland was facing increased risk of money laundering, citing examples such as 1MDB.
Switzerland believes that at least US$4 billion from 1MDB had been misappropriated but The Economist said investigators now believe that it could be as much as US$6 billion.
The Economist noted that Switzerland’s top financial regulator believes that banks, which involved some of the biggest names in international finance, were involved in “inadequate” anti-money-laundering measures.
What happened on the 1MDB scandal front in the past 48 hours include:
1. The charging in Singapore of a former banker with the Singapore arm of Switzerland’s BSI Bank for money laundering following the city-state’s investigation into 1MDB.
2. The refusal of PetroSaudi International, the firm which partnered with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in a now defunct investment joint venture, to comment if it owned Good Star Limited, which was the recipient of some US$700 million from the Malaysian government investment arm in 2009.
This was PetroSaudi’s response to the Australian paper, The Weekend Australian.
3. The growing storm over the PAC Chairman’s unilateral and arbitrary deletion of the PAC Report on 1MDB disclosing that “Bank Negara Malaysia had been informed voluntarily by the authorities of that country that Good Star Limited is a company owned by an individual that has no links to PetroSaudi Group” – which grapples with the “original sin” of the 1MDB global scandal!
What is the PAC Chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin trying to hide with such an unilateral, arbitrary and critical deletion – for it would have thrown light on the shocking genesis of the 1MDB as a mega scam right from the very beginning of its establishment, with US$700 million of 1MDB funds diverted to Jho Low’s bogus shell-company, Good Star Limited, especially as it has been alleged by Wall Street Journal that Good Star Limited is solely owned by Jho Low and had nothing to do with PetroSaudi International.
The person who know most about the “original sin” of the RM50 billion 1MDB global scandal is none other Jho Low.
Can he continue to keep his silence and be a fugitive from justice?
How long can Jho Low disappear or go incognito?