Johari: We can't press charges on 1MDB without a full picture
Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani said whatever has been made public about 1MDB is only half the story and that a full picture is needed before any charges are made, The Edge Daily reported today.
"Even the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) and AG (auditor-general) were unable to specifically tell what went wrong.
"The transfer of the money to the accounts and so on, it’s not that. That’s only half the story. If you want to charge people, you need the complete story," Johari said at a luncheon talk organised by Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd yesterday.
The minister was responding to a question on the perceived lack of effort from the local authorities in investigating 1MDB, as compared with several prosecutions and convictions in Singapore related to the state fund.
The actions taken by Singapore against several bankers were due to governance offences, which took place in the city state and not in Malaysia, the finance daily quoted Johari as saying.
"The governance issue happened in Singapore, not in Malaysia. And those characters are actually Singaporeans. These people were charged for not knowing their client. How can you receive money without knowing your client?
"Singapore realised that they had to charge these people because if they don’t, it will be damaging to the financial institutions in Singapore," Johari said.
'Investigations must be completed first'
The ongoing investigations by the various authorities must be completed first as Malaysia is relying on these evidence before any further actions are taken, he added.
In addition, Johari said, any action taken during the arbitration process between 1MDB and Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) would weaken Malaysia’s position.
1MDB and IPIC are currently in arbitration over the US$6.5 billion dispute at the London Court of Arbitration.
“Of course, if you talk about emotion and all that, we want to take action. But at the end of the day, the government doesn’t run on emotional strategies. We need to be very sure of what we want to do,” he said.
Later, responding to recent comments by opposition legislator Tony Pua that the Finance Ministry is bailing out 1MDB, Johari explained that when the ministry took over the assets, they came attached with their respective operating loans.
"When we take the land, it comes with the loans. The loans turned out to be RM2.4 billion and RM800 million - the operating loans - which we cannot exclude if we acquire the assets. The loans will be serviced by all the developments that we are going to do.
"If the assets remained under 1MDB, no potential investor would want to come in and help develop the land,” he said.
However, Johari said, the ministry would not take over 1MDB’s other debts, namely the RM5 billion sukuk, the US$3 billion bond and two tranches of US$1.75 billion.