Did Johari just blame PM for blowing US$3.5b in 1MDB ‘settlement’?
MP SPEAKS In an exclusive response to Malaysiakini yesterday, Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani insisted that he has proof that Aabar Investment PJS Limited (Aabar BVI), an entity incorporated in the British Virgin Islands to which 1MDB has already paid US$3.51 billion, is a genuine subsidiary of International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) of Abu Dhabi.
"As far as I am concerned, based on records provided by 1MDB to the public accounts committee (PAC) prior to the settlement agreement, Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (BVI) is a subsidiary of IPIC.
"A fact which was confirmed by the Registrar of Corporate Affairs of the British Virgin Islands by its letter dated Aug 11, 2016," Johari told Malaysiakini.
The question is, if the so-called “proof” is so incontrovertible, then it makes absolutely no sense to concede on a whopping US$3.5 billion, or more than RM15 billion, based on today’s exchange rates.
Instead of being all gung-ho in being able to win the IPIC-initiated arbitration, the second finance minister said “the matter is beyond (him)” in a subsequent press conference yesterday. Johari now made a complete U-turn, claiming that the government decided to look after the “bigger picture”.
“At the end of the day, the government felt that they are looking at the bigger picture on this, in terms of the relationship between Malaysian and Abu Dhabi and so on… So I think that’s beyond me. I’m going for the facts, but this is a bigger thing.”
In fact, the second finance minister shifted the blame to the prime minister. “The prime minister has made the decision for the country. That’s it,” he retorted.
Conflict of interest
But that’s exactly what Malaysians are worried about - that it’s the prime minister who is making the decisions because he is conflicted.
Based on documents revealed by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ), which were corroborated by the evidence produced by the Singapore prosecution against its rogue bankers, from the funds transferred to Aabar (BVI), (a 'Malaysian Official 1') personally received a sum of US$30 million in his personal bank account in AmBank in 2012.
Worse, Prime Minister Najib Razak's stepson, Riza Aziz received US$238 million via his Red Granite group of companies. Some US$100 million of the sum was allegedly used to produce the Hollywood movie, 'The Wolf of Wall Street' starring Leonardo DiCaprio.
In addition, isn’t Johari interested to find out if, despite the incontrovertible “proof” in his possession, that Aabar (BVI) could have been fraudulently set up by the officers of IPIC - Khadem Al-Qubaishi and Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny, both of whom have been sacked by IPIC - in collusion with 1MDB officers to defraud both the Abu Dhabi and Malaysian governments?
Hence the question must be asked as to whether Najib Abdul Razak decided to ‘settle’ the IPIC dispute - which had resulted in US$3.5 billion of additional liability for Malaysians - because it is really in the interest of the country or, to prevent IPIC from further exposing and confirming his alleged complicity in the entire 1MDB scandal.
Therefore, it is utterly irresponsible of Johari to wash his hands off the Ministry of Finance taking on the RM15 billion mega-liability. Instead of acting ignorant, shouldn’t the second finance minister satisfy himself that the prime minister has not made the decision out of self-interest? In reality, was the “bigger picture” a blatant attempt to save Najib and BN from losing in the next general election?
If the matter is indeed “beyond” him, as he pleads, then Johari might as well resign as the second finance minister.
TONY PUA is Petaling Jaya Utara MP and DAP national publicity secretary.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.