Archive for July 24th, 2016

Give Shabery Cheek the benefit of the doubt for making such an embarrassing statement – let him read the 136-page DOJ suit to confiscate over US$1 billion of 1MDB-linked assets in US and declare whether he would say the same thing

Let us give the Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industries, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who is former university lecturer, the benefit of the doubt that he had neither the time nor opportunity to read the US Department of Justice (DOJ)’s 136-page civil suits filed four days ago under the US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative 2010 to confiscate over US$1 billion of 1MDB-linked assets in the United States as to make such a “irresponsible”, “outrageous”, “desperate” and “embarrassing” statement (terms rightly used by PKR central committee member Latheefa Koya) that the DOJ legal suits were a “normal matter”.

Let Shabery read and digest what are in the DOJ’s 136-page legal suits for civil forfeiture against assets allegedly bought with money looted from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.

The DOJ said that more than US$3.5 billion (RM14.2 billion) was misappropriated from 1MDB but the forfeiture action targeted about US1 billion in assets located in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland which include mansions and penthouses, a US$35 million executive jet and artwork.

The DOJ said the assets are “traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1MDB.”

Let Shabery read the DOJ’s legal suits and then declare whether he would stand by what he had said, that US DOJ’s civil forfeiture actions seeking to impound assets acquired from funds allegedly embezzled from government investment arm 1MDB is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the Malaysian government. Read the rest of this entry »


What is most shocking is the total lack of shock of Najib and Cabinet Ministers to the US DOJ’s horrendous 136-page legal suit under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative (KARI) exposing the host of theft, misappropriation and embezzlement of tens of billions of ringgit of Malaysian public funds

In about a month’s time, we will be celebrating the 59th National Day and 53rd Malaysia Day anniversaries, but the last three days had been the most shameful, humiliating and mortifying period in the six decades of the nation’s history for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or political affiliation..

Never before had Malaysia been condemned and crucified in the global society as a thoroughly corrupt and decadent country, as when the US Attorney-General Loretta E Lynch, told an international audience through Internet livestreaming of her press conference in United States that the American authorities are trying to recover for the Malaysian people billions of ringgit stolen from them by corrupt officials meant “to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people”.

Referring to the billions of ringgit that were “stolen, laundered through the American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates”, Loretta said “Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes.”

The 136-page US Department of Justice (DOJ) legal suit under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is a “tale of infamy and horror” about the multiple failures of democratic good governance and key national institutions in Malaysia – not just the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament but also institutions like the Police, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Bank Negara, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Judiciary – that such mammoth and monstrous global white-collar crimes could take place under their watch.

What I also find most shocking in the past three days over the DOJ legal suit to recover more than US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets in the United States is the total lack of shock of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his Cabinet Ministers and government politicians to the US DOJ’s horrendous 136-page legal suit under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative (KARI) exposing the litany of theft, misappropriation and embezzlement of tens of billions of ringgit of Malaysian public funds. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia has been betrayed by Prime Minister Najib Razak

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
22 July 2016

I have argued time and again that the greatest threat to the Muslim world is not the West, but rather, corruption and incompetence in administration in the Muslim countries themselves.

To this argument there were a number of crucial pieces of evidence. First of all, there is a clear inverse correlation between corruption and economic development not just in the Middle East, but globally. Secondly, Muslim countries are among the most corrupt countries in the world, and this maps well to the problems we know well from the region.

In this sense, the abundance of natural resources has served to mask much of the problem, as per capita wealth in the region comes out as much higher than it would have been for a given level of corruption, and that distorts the perception of societal problems in these countries.

For another, that abundance of wealth can be used to buy off the acquiescence of the population to an otherwise questionable regime, as is the case with the benefits that these states lavish upon their population, or alternatively, can be used to fund extensive repressive police and intelligence apparatuses to keep the population in check, as was the case in Saddam-era Iraq.

But there was also plenty of converse evidence, specifically states on the periphery of the Islamic world which did not conform the region’s reputation for corruption. Most notably, we had the examples of Turkey and of Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia’s Real Problem? It’s Indonesia

Barron’s Asia
July 22, 2016

Malaysia’s complacency and drift under Najib Razak may see Indonesia zoom past it in the years ahead.

Najib Razak faces an international crisis. Not just with Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney-general, calling out official corruption in his Malaysia and seizing more than $1 billion in assets. And not just with investors frustrated with the complacency undermining his economy. The real problem for the scandal-plagued prime minister is Indonesia.

As Najib’s government circles the wagons to protect their man from international pressures, Indonesia’s newish leader, Joko Widodo, is welcoming them. It’s taken Widodo, who’s known as Jokowi, some time to find his reformist groove. But at the 641-day mark, there’s ample evidence that Jokowi is proving to be the anti-Najib in ways that could enrich Indonesians at Malaysians’ expense.

Admittedly, it seems odd to refer to Jokowi as “newish” one year and nine months into the job. But considering the fantastically-entrenched vested interests this political outsider is up against, and how close Indonesia was to failed statehood just 18 years ago, consolidating power and finding ones footing in Jakarta takes time. Jokowi is now rolling up his sleeves to address impediments to growth, and it’s a heartening sight.

It’s also quite a contrast with the disheartening state of play in Malaysia. Lynch didn’t mention Najib by name in her tantalizing Wednesday press conference (he’s a key U.S. ally in Asia). But it doesn’t take much imagination to connect the dots between Washington’s “Malaysian official 1” and the prime minister’s office (there’s already a #MalaysianOfficial1 hashtag on Twitter). By linking Najib to vast sums of money allegedly siphoned from state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., U.S. prosecutors ensured that Malaysia’s annus horribilis just got worse. Read the rest of this entry »


The Crisis of Political Islam

Wall Street Journal
July 22, 2016

First Egypt and now Turkey show the perils of ideological religious parties (and strongman rule), but other Muslim countries are faring better with democracy

In 1999, a former mayor of Istanbul named Recep Tayyip Erdogan was imprisoned and banned from politics for life for reciting a poem. “Our minarets are our bayonets, our domes are our helmets, our mosques are our barracks,” the incriminating lines went. “My reference is Islam. If I am not able to speak of this, what is the use of living?”

The ban on Mr. Erdogan didn’t stick. Now Turkey’s president (and prime minister for 11 years before that), he is presiding over a nationwide purge of suspected enemies after the failure last week of a military coup against his government.

For decades, in much of the Middle East, Islamist politicians like Mr. Erdogan weren’t able to speak out — and, when they did, they frequently faced a prison cell or a hangman’s noose. From Algeria to Egypt to Turkey, the apparatus of the state repeatedly unleashed repression — of varying degrees of harshness — to marginalize political Islam, crushing democratic freedoms while offering the excuse of preserving secular values. The West, preferring the autocratic devils it knew over the Islamists it didn’t, often concurred.

In response, many of the Islamist movements that sprang up under the influence of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — groups that include Mr. Erdogan’s party — have gradually embraced the language of pluralism and the idea of democratic politics and elections. Crucially, however, these modern Islamists have often viewed democracy not as a value in itself but merely as a tactic to bring about a “true” Islamic order. To them, the voting booth was simply the most feasible way to dismantle the postcolonial, secular systems that, in the eyes of their followers, had failed to bring justice or development to ordinary Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »

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Decision Time on Malaysia’s 1MDB

Wall Street Journal
July 21, 2016

Losses of billions of dollars will catch up with Najib Razak.

U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday linked Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to hundreds of millions of dollars they believe were stolen from the Malaysian state-owned investment fund 1MDB. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to freeze more than $1 billion in assets from people connected to Mr. Najib, including his stepson Riza Aziz. The individuals named in the complaint allegedly used the money to buy real estate, artworks and other baubles of the jet set.

Mr. Najib denies all wrongdoing and spokesmen have dismissed critics as part of a conspiracy to overthrow an elected leader. Mr. Najib has previously said that $681 million that ended up in his personal accounts was a legal political donation from Saudi Arabia that was later mostly returned.

But Mr. Najib can’t escape responsibility if it is proved that national wealth held by 1MDB disappeared on his watch. He launched 1MDB in 2009, served as chairman of the advisory board, and oversaw it as Prime Minister and, concurrently, Finance Minister. The evidence of fraud connected to 1MDB from investigations in the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland and at least four other countries is damning. The U.S. Justice Department put the losses at $3.5 billion on Wednesday. The Swiss Attorney General’s office said earlier this year it suspects $4 billion was misappropriated. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia Leader Under Pressure From U.S. Lawsuit Over 1MDB Assets

By JAKE MAXWELL WATTS in Singapore and YANTOULTRA NGUI and CELINE FERNANDEZ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Wall Street Journal
July 21, 2016

Prime Minister Najib Razak faced fresh calls to resign Thursday after the U.S. moved to seize more than $1 billion of assets allegedly siphoned from a development fund he founded. But with elections likely years away, Malaysia’s well-entrenched leader looked set to easily weather the latest storm.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday seeking to seize assets it said were part of “an international conspiracy to launder money’’ misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB.

Authorities in Singapore, Malaysia’s wealthy neighbor, followed on Thursday by saying they had seized bank accounts and placed restrictions on property transactions worth a combined 240 million Singapore dollars (US$178 million) as part of their own probe into 1MDB.

A request for comment from Mr. Najib’s office went unanswered on Thursday. Earlier, his office said it would fully cooperate with any lawful investigation in line with international protocols. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysia fiasco undercuts Goldman’s standards push

By Una Galani

July 22, 2016

Malaysia’s sovereign fund scandal has exposed shortcomings in Goldman Sachs’ post-crisis overhaul of its business practices. Five years ago, the Wall Street firm led by Lloyd Blankfein went to great lengths to assure regulators, investors and clients that it was tightening up standards. But its dealings with the now disgraced 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) cast doubt on the depth of Goldman’s changes.

An attempt by the U.S. Department of Justice to seize assets bought with some of the $3.5 billion it says was stolen from 1MDB offer the clearest account yet of the bank’s deep relationship with the Malaysian fund. Though Goldman has not been accused of any wrongdoing, its name appears frequently in lawsuits that detail a complex web of fraudulent transactions over several years.

Back in 2009, Goldman helped set up the fund which counted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as its top advisor. An excerpt of an email suggests that, from the very start, Goldman executives were concerned about the issue of transparency at the new fund and its reliance on borrowed money. By the time the bank started raising money for 1MDB in earnest three years later, corrupt officials had already sucked around $1 billion from the fund, the legal documents show.

Nevertheless, between 2012 and 2013 Goldman helped 1MDB raise $6.5 billion by issuing three bonds. The Justice Department suggests that around 40 percent of that money was siphoned off, and indicates that $681 million ultimately found its way into Najib’s personal bank account, though the prime minister is not directly named. Read the rest of this entry »

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Justice Dept. Rejects Account of How Malaysia’s Leader Acquired Millions

New York Times
JULY 22, 2016

BANGKOK — A United States Justice Department complaint filed in federal court this week directly contradicts repeated assertions by the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, about the origins and purpose of hundreds of millions of dollars that ended up in his personal bank accounts.

While Mr. Najib and other Malaysian officials have insisted that the money was a gift from an unidentified Saudi donor, the Justice Department said that it was stolen from a Malaysian government investment fund that Mr. Najib oversaw. Mr. Najib has said he never received any money from the fund.

The court filing, one of several complaints filed Wednesday in a federal money-laundering investigation, provides the first official public documentation of transactions that challenge Mr. Najib’s version of events in a scandal that has battered his government for the past year.

The revelations could undermine his credibility and give new ammunition to a movement to force him from office. However, he maintains firm control over his governing party and has successfully stifled opposition with the firing of critics from party posts, the closing of online news outlets and the criminal prosecution of social media detractors and political opponents. Read the rest of this entry »

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