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Johari denies contradicting Najib over 1MDB-IPIC settlement

Kow Gah Chie

Published
Modified 27 Apr 2017, 11:28 am

Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani has denied contradicting Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak over the arbitration settlement between 1MDB and International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

He also accused the opposition, especially DAP lawmaker Tony Pua, of attempting to create a wedge between the prime minister and him.

Yesterday, Malaysiakini, in an exclusive report, quoted Johari as stating that there was a letter dated Aug 11, 2016, from the Registrar of Corporate Affairs of the British Virgin Islands confirming that Aabar BVI was an IPIC subsidiary.

The disclosure led a source familiar with the matter to question why the Malaysian team had chosen to opt for a settlement, instead of letting the arbitration process between 1MDB and IPIC run its course, when it had such strong evidence.

In a statement today, Pua had questioned if Johari was shifting the blame to Najib, and urged the minister to resign.

"Who is Pua to ask me to resign,” Johari shot back.

“I don't report to him. I never contradicted the prime minister. Don't try to split me and the prime minister with this matter," he told Malaysiakini.
"I have no problems with the prime minister, we have a good working relationship," he said, adding that Najib understood his position and did not seek clarification over the disclosure of the letter's existence.

Johari also denied objecting to the settlement, claiming his statements in supporting the move had been consistent.

The minister said his disclosure to Malaysiakini regarding the letter was merely a follow-up to his statement regarding the matter in the Dewan Rakyat last November.

Johari also responded to PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli and BN lawmaker Marcus Mojigoh's call for him to make the letter public.

"Who is Rafizi to ask me to publish (the letter)?" he questioned, adding he could not do that as it was a confidential and caveat letter.

"If Rafizi thinks what I said in November 2016 in Parliament is wrong, he can always refer my conduct to the parliamentary privileges committee," he added.

However, he said Marcus and other members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) could have access to the letter if the PAC writes to the ministry to seek permission.

Johari also brushed off Pua's allegation that Najib was conflicted in making the decision with regard to the settlement.

"You can assume anything, but in the end of the day, in the court of law, everyone is innocent until proven guilty. So, you cannot simply make a conclusion when no one has been found guilty," he added.

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