Saturday, June 17, 2017

After latest US blockbuster, opposition challenges Putrajaya to go beyond denial

Sheridan Mahavera
After latest US blockbuster, opposition challenges Putrajaya to go beyond denial
1MDB once again grab world headlines as US prosecutors file suit to seize another US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets allegedly bought with money stolen from the state investment fund. – AFP pic, June 16, 2017.
PAKATAN Harapan (PH) wants Putrajaya to prove that United States prosecutors are wrong following a third civil suit filed by Department of Justice in connection with 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

The call from PH leaders come as both the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Malaysian Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) maintain that local authorities have found no evidence that crime was committed in the state investor.

The PMO and AGC both expressed regret over the suit which was filed by the DoJ with the aim to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MBD money.

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said the denials from the PMO and AGC were "laughable" and did not address the facts raised in the suit.

“Very simply, the AGC and PMO must confirm simple facts – whether Najib received more than US$731 million from a fund originating from 1MDB; or if (Najib’s wife) Datin Seri Rosmah (Mansor) purchased a pink diamond worth US$27 million,” said Pua, who is also DAP publicity secretary.

“If they did not, then deny, produce factual evidence and put the matter to rest.”

Pua, who has been a vocal critic of 1MDB, said yesterday’s suit proved his theory about another 1MDB scam related to US$ 2.3 billion in investments that the company claimed were held by Brazen Sky in BSI Bank.

“The purported US$ 2.3 billion held by Brazen Sky is nothing but worthless pieces of paper with negligible value,” Pua said.

PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil said there are now two conflicting narratives of 1MDB, one from the Malaysian authorities and the other from prosecutors in the US, Singapore and Switzerland. 

While the Malaysian authorities continue to maintain that no crime was committed in 1MDB, the courts in Singapore and Switzerland have fined and jailed bankers for moving 1MDB-tainted money.

“Since the third suit brought by the DoJ, the Attorney-General should send a delegation immediately to work with the DoJ to prove in a court of law whether these charges against 1MDB are true or false,” Fahmi said.

The DoJ’s suit yesterday is meant to seize, among others, a US$165 million yacht the Equanimity, owned by financier Jho Low, and rights to comedy movie "Dumb and Dumber To" produced by Red Granite, a production house co-owned by Riza Aziz, the stepson of Prime Minister Najib Razak.

The department also alleged in its suit that at least US$27.3 million was used by Low to buy a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace for the "Malaysian Official 1's wife".

The title "Malaysian Official 1" refers to an individual in the DoJ’s first suit in July last year, who allegedly received US$681 million (RM2.6 billion) in funds siphoned from 1MBD.

In August last year, Cabinet Minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan confirmed that Malaysian Official 1 referred to Najib but said the prime minister was not under investigation.

Najib has maintained that the US$681 million was a donation from a Saudi royal.

The AGC has cleared Najib of any wrongdoing after receiving the reports on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission probe into 1MDB in January last year.

Another MP Lim Kit Siang said the latest suit further contradicts Najib’s insistence that the money he received was from a Saudi royal.

Lim said 10 paragraphs in the 251-page document states that US$681 million had been transferred from an account held by Tanore Finance Corp to an account belonging to Malaysian Official 1.

“There are other 'killer paragraphs' for the Prime Minister in the US DoJ kleptocratic suit but let us begin with these 10 paragraphs as to what Najib and the Govenrment are going to do to convince the world that Malaysia has not become a “global kleptocracy”,” Lim said.

Lim further questioned if Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali had read them before declaring there was nothing new in the documents.

The DAP leader said these paragraphs were directly linked to the RM2.6 billion in Prime Minister Najib Razak's bank accounts, which was described as a 'donation' from a Saudi royalty.

DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng said the Malaysian government must immediately respond by filling a suit in the US to refute the DoJ’s accusations, if they are not true, said Lim.

Lim said the Malaysian government’s credibility and accountability will be further dented if these latest allegations go unchallenged. – June 16, 2017.

~ The Malaysian Insight

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