Tuesday, March 17, 2015

More 1MDB exposé – stop pretending everything is fine

15 Mar 08:00 PM

Khadem (second left) and Najib at the agreement signing of a joint-venture project between the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia in March 2013

 by K Kabilan
QUICK TAKE: Another week, another exposé. This time whistle-blower site Sarawak Report writes about the alleged link involving Malaysia's embattled sovereign fund 1MDB, controversial business figure Jho Low and a prominent Abu Dhabi fund manager called Khadem Al-Qubaisi.

In a report dated March 14, Sarawak Report posed these questions - why did Jho Low’s company pay Khadem US$20.75 million in February 2013, and did the payment involve 1MDB funds in any way?

The report stated that Khadem, who chairs Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments fund, played a key figure in a much vaunted multi-billion joint venture investment project between the United Arab Emirates and Malaysia in March 2013. 

According to media reports then, the Arab country had committed no less than RM39 billion of investments in Malaysia, RM18 billion of which was for a joint venture with 1MDB. 

Sarawak Report said that as it turns out, no money has been raised by Abu Dhabi for this venture. It also quoted DAP’s Tony Pua as saying that 1MDB raised US$3 billion through borrowing, in the name of these projects, but it was not matched by Aabar. And of even that amount, only half can be publicly accounted for. 

“In fact, it is clear that far from investing in Malaysia, ‘joint venture partners’ such as Abu Dhabi’s Aabar have been sucking a fortune out of 1MDB,” said Sarawak Report.
A screenshot of a Sarawak Report expose alleging that businessman Low Taek Jho is involved in a money laundering scheme with 1Malaysia Development Berhad

The report also claimed that it has obtained documents which show Jho Low-controlled company Good Star Limited had paid US$20.75 million into the Edmund de Rothschild Private Bank (BPERE), Luxembourg account of a company owned by Khadem on Feb 20, 2013. 

“Sarawak Report has over the past months identified numerous links between Aabar Investments and the businessman Jho Low.

“Coincidentally, many of these links also involve 1MDB.” 

If what Sarawak Report claims is true, it is imperative that Malaysian authorities start investigating the real depth of the alleged financial irregularities involving 1MDB.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, whose brainchild is the 1MDB, is left with no choice but to urge the police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Bank Negara to immediately start forensic investigations into the money trail flowing out of 1MDB.

Ordering the Auditor-General to check into the audited accounts of 1MDB is simply insufficient as the trail of destruction seems to be going much deeper than what was initially envisaged.

As former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, it is time to fully probe into this matter and punish the guilty, no matter who they are.

In an interview he gave to foreign media last week, Jho Low agreed to be investigated, while claiming he had not done anything wrong and that he only advised 1MDB when his opinion was sought. 

If that's the case, who is the real mastermind behind the theft of public funds from 1MDB? Or is it simply a case of total utter incompetence? 

Najib is walking on thin ice here. Failure to adequately address these concerns will only cause more public anger and who knows what Sarawak Report might expose next? 

However much Najib might pray and hope for, the 1MDB fiasco will not simply go away. The Prime Minister appears not to have any answers right now over what actually went wrong with 1MDB but to portray that everything is just fine is outright foolish and could result in heavy political cost. 

The guilty ones must be unmasked and for that the government cannot be seen as not doing anything, unless it too had played a role in the fraud. It is really as simple as that.

- See more at: http://www.theantdaily.com/Main/More-1MDB-exposé-stop-pretending-everything-is-fine#sthash.CLdSQO2U.dpuf

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