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'Do we have a nincompoop running Finance Ministry?'

An opposition MP has described Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as the most unqualified finance minister following the latter's reply on  the 1MDB issue.

 

"Do we have a nincompoop as a finance minister?" asked Tony Pua (DAP-Petaling Jaya Utara) at a press conference held at the Parliament lobby.

Pua ( photo ) was referring to a parliamentary written reply dated May 28, in which Najib had given the reason why 1MDB gave a US$2.03 billion (RM7.6 billion) loan to a subsidiary of PetroSaudi International Limited.

"I asked for the minister's reply but instead I got 1MDB's reply.

"You are the minister who approved the loan given by 1MDB so why give me 1MDB's answer. This doesn't make sense.

"Am I to conclude that we have a nincompoop for a finance minister who doesn't even know why he approved the US$2.03 billion (RM7.6 billion) loan?" Pua asked.

Najib's reply once again showed a clear-cut abdication of ministerial duties for fear that a reply may lead to the truth being exposed, he said.

"Based on the information given by the 1MDB management to finance ministry, the loan was approved to reduce the risk as compared with the equity holding in the joint venture," said Najib through the parliamentary reply.

"For the third time in this parliamentary sitting, he refused to answer the question directly," sighed Pua.

Quality of Najib's answer questioned

1MDB originally invested US$1 billion (RM3.75 billion) equity in the US$2.5 billion (RM9.4 billion) 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture, and no money was forked out from the other partner.

Six months later, the joint venture was called off. 1MDB's equity was valued at US$1.2 billion (RM4.5 billion) and the loan to PetroSaudi was in the form of Murabaha notes, an Islamic bond.

Subsequently, 1MDB loaned US$500 million (RM1.88 billion) and US$300 million (RM1.13 billion) to PetroSaudi, in 2010 and 2011 respectively. This has increased the loan to US$2.03 billion (RM7.6 billion).

The DAP leader also questioned the quality of Najib's answer, where it was claimed that the loan was approved to reduce the risk.

"How in the world would the risk be lower when 1MDB would have absolutely no control over how the total loan would be spent by PetroSaudi?

"The respond doesn't explain why Najib had approved multiple increases in loans to PetroSaudi.

"Can Najib accept the 'collateral' of a corporate guarantee from PetroSaudi for the loan when the paid-capital of PetroSaudi was less than US$150,000 (RM562,500)?" Pua asked.

Najib has nowhere to hide

Meanwhile, Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad (PAS-Kuala Terengganu) cautioned Najib that he has "nowhere to hide", even if the 1MDB's board were made to be the scapegoat.

"Najib may think he can hide from (his precedessor) Mahathir Mohamad at the 'Nothing to Hide' dialogue, but he has nowhere to hide on 1MDB issues," he said.

Besides the PetroSaudi deal, Raja Kamarul Bahrin ( photo ) said Najib should also answer 1MDB's precursor Terengganu Investment Authority's (TIA) secured RM5 billion loan, despite not having any known physical assets or existing projects in hand.

"Everywhere we look, the buck stops at Najib, who is the finance minister and the 1MDB advisory board chairperson," he said.

 

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