COMMENT The year is coming to a close. While at least six jurisdictions are rigorously investigating and convicting those that have allegedly committed and abetted in the ‘international heist of the century’ and the biggest financial scandal in the modern world, where the money trail spans over at least 10 countries, not a whimper is heard on our own shores.
Of the five countries now aggressively probing the matter, Singapore is the only one so far to have secured convictions.
Besides the two former BSI bankers who have been sentenced to prison and fined for forgery and failure to report suspicious transactions, the republic convicted a third banker, a former wealth manager with the same Swiss bank BSI.
Earlier, the Money Authority of Singapore (MAS) shut down two private banks - BSI and Falcon - and fined DBS Group, UBS and StandardChartered Bank for lapses in money-laundering controls.
Very recently, US federal judge Dale Fischer denied postponement of the hearing in respect of documents filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ), hence denying the motion by Jho Low and his family to delay hearing on the 1MDB matter.
Abu Dhabi has arrested Khadem Al-Qubaishi, ex-head of the Emirati government’s lnternational Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and Mohamed Badawy al-Huseiny, former head of Aabar Investments PJS, both in relation to fraud and money-laundering on 1MDB.
Surprise, surprise, Second Finance Minister Johari Abdul Ghani has gone on record as commending the move by Singapore’s financial regulators to sort out money-laundering matters linked to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
He was reported to have commented that... “So as far as Malaysia is concerned, we are going through that process.” Now for how much longer, Honourable Minister?
Simply put, is the attorney-general (AG) willing to see any legal proceedings on any one of these ‘rogues’ be instituted only after the 14th general election?
The Malaysian AG, however, has very regrettably refused all assistance to other countries conducting the 1MDB investigation. In the same vein, he is similarly not willing to be assisted by any other authorities.
To the chagrin of the entire citizenry, despite two attempts of Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney (AG) to request for Mutual Legal Assistance to get to the bottom of the investigation, the Malaysian AG has taken the liberty of turning it down.
AG should act against one person as recommended by PAC
Be that as it may, could we now request or to put it more appropriately, demand that the AG now act on at least one person as strongly recommended by the Public Accounts Committee’s report on 1MDB presented to the Parliament on April 7, 2016?
On page 106 of the report, the PAC has specifically and categorically stated that the former CEO of 1MDB, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, be immediately investigated.
Going by the PAC report, Shahrol has acted against or not complied with the board of director’s decision 19 times, deceived the board six times, and also deceived the auditors three times.
On record, going against the decision of the board, the management of 1MDB led by Shahrol was responsible and instrumental in executing a telegraphic transfer of US$700 million to an account in RBS Coutts Bank Ltd, now proven to serve Jho Low’s interests.
Finally, it is with great shame that Malaysia has now to disgracefully admit that the 1MDB case has become a signature campaign in the global effort by prosecutors to crack down on kleptocracy and the relative ease with which the super-rich move their money beyond the oversight of government and monetary authorities.
We now seek immediate action to be taken by the AG, to defend whatever that is left of our national pride and integrity.
DR DZULKEFLY AHMAD is strategy director, Parti Amanah Negara.