‘Billion Dollar Whale’ won’t exonerate Najib – and Shafee knows it

Opinion  |  Phar Kim Beng
Published:  |  Modified:

COMMENT | Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the lead counsel of former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak, affirmed last week that Tom Wright and Bradley Hope's ‘Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World’ can strengthen the case of the defence.

The book apparently describes Low Taek Jho as the "puppet master" who led Najib into various fake and nefarious financial transactions with 1MDB, many of which are now hanging like the sword of Damocles over the head of Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor.

Since Low is the mastermind, the argument goes, all responsibilities of financial misdoings can be attributed to him. There is a huge flaw to this argument, and Shafee knows it.

In all cases of criminal breach of trust and money laundering, the deed has to pass through four vital stages. First, there must be the intention or plan to cheat, which is clearly manifested in 1MDB, since it was essentially a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that was meant to be a false sovereign fund.

This SPV has had no business model from its inception in 2009. While it could pile on debt, even remove the whole board at will, it never come close to having any revenue-generating activities. Thus, the intention to cheat was inherent from the very beginning.

Secondly, there has to be a plan of implementation. The financial transactions in Dubai, Geneva, Hong Kong, Singapore and the offshore financial accounts in Seychelles and the British Virgin Islands, there was indeed a grand plan to transfer the money in and out of the global financial system.

Indeed, if Shafee wants to use the book by Wright and Hope to bolster his legal defence, then other sections of the book are equally illuminating...

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