More dirt on 1MDB and former Sarawak CM Taib Mahmud
09 Sep 2015 08:00 PM
by Hazlan Zakaria
COMMENT: As the ongoing 1MDB saga continues to develop, with politically-linked media firing pot-shots at federal Opposition leaders over allegations that they bought stolen data, more overseas bombards are on the way for those close to the powers that be, with further exposes on the cards.
First are the Wall Street Journal’s revelations of reported irregularities by United Arab Emirates' government in the dealings of its own state investment arm, Aabar Investments via subsidiary IPIC with the Malaysian sovereign fund.
This included the disappearance of US$1.4 billion in payments that is supposed to be made by the Malaysian sovereign fund to IPIC. Money which insiders claim to have disappeared, or rather not recorded in IPIC's receipts.
Such reported irregular activities which purportedly go hand in hand with the kingdom having to replace the top executives of its own state investment vessel and to restructure the firm, to insulate from further exposure to the 1MDB fracas.
1MDB, as is their usual modus operandi has issued a statement of denial to all accusations made against it.
The fund said that it cannot speak for Aabar or IPIC, but can confirm that its audited financial statements described the amount and purpose of the payments.
Though it did mention that to avoid doubt, the payments are structured as deposits, being termed as financial assets as opposed to expenses or liabilities, similar perhaps to how its deposits are then described as "units".
A testament to the creative ways that 1MDB records its financials perhaps and one that would create, not reduce doubts, despite the fund's claims of the opposite.
It had also claimed previously that official investigations into alleged improprieties had cleared it from wrongdoings.
However investigations into the fund are still open and ongoing, as disruptions of the operations of investigating bodies have scuttled investigating activities recently.
The UAE is not the first Middle Eastern country to be wary of its entanglement with 1MDB.
The government of Saudi Arabia was reportedly not amused that its name had been linked to 1MDB 'investments' through cases such as Petrosaudi, as well as the source of the mysterious 'donation' into a national leader's private accounts.
Secondly is more allegations of corrupt practices committed by Sarawak Governor Taib Mahmud when he was the chief minister of the natural resource rich state, this time over accusations of possible money laundering activities.
In what is a continuation of allegations of graft and abuse of power, native rights pressure group Bruno Manser Fonds, or BMF has accused Taib and his family of more money laundering activities, allegedly involving money stolen from the people of Sarawak.
This time it involves purported shady dealings which saw members of the Taib clan owning a hotel in Australia via means of funds loaned to a firm they owned via mysterious means.
BMF is alleging that the monies are laundered through a complex network of holding companies, to hide that it is from Taib and his clan.
The NGO’s allegations are being taken seriously enough to prompt a motion in the South Australian Parliament to investigate the matter and censure those involved.
BMF had previously made similar allegations of the Taib clan using complex corporate structures, to hide monies pilfered from Sarawak in real estate and companies in North America and Europe.
Taib and his family have vehemently denied previous accusations, and described the actions as the vindictive efforts of foreigners who wanted to interfere in Malaysian politics.
While 1MDB and Taib have repeatedly professed their innocence of any wrongdoings, it is perhaps an indication that there would be no smoke without fire, that more and more issues involving the two problematic entities are popping up all over the place.
While guilt and innocence are perhaps for the courts to decide, it is perhaps prudent too that investigating authorities be allowed to do their job and either clear or charge those involved in such nation-shaming shenanigans.