Malaysiakini News

For ex-NST editor, 1MDB's 'fund units' issue remains a mystery

Published:  |  Modified:

Almost two years after Mustapha Kamil Mohd Janor abruptly resigned as News Straits Times group editor, the issue of 1MDB's "fund units" remains a mystery.

Mustapha did not reveal the reason for his resignation but in a Facebook posting said during his time at the NST, he had raised the issue of the fund units.

"When our journalist wrote the news about it (fund units), I asked our senior editor what exactly are these units? We have to explain to our readers what they are.

"I was forced to ask the question because no one would believe an incomplete story. Furthermore, our newspaper at that time was facing a serious crisis of confidence that had affected its sales.

"In the end, no one could explain what really were the fund units. We printed the news as it was and the next day many people phoned in to criticise the incomplete story," said Mustapha, who confirmed his departure in May 2016 after 26 years with the NST. 

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak (photo) had in March 2015 told Parliament that 1MDB had redeemed US$1.103 billion of its investment in cash which was then parked at a bank in Singapore.

Then Finance Minister II Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah later clarified that the statement was a mistake and the sum was in the form of "fund units" held by Brazen Sky Limited, a subsidiary of 1MDB.

"In the end, Husni not only withdrew as the 1MDB spokesperson but also from his position (as finance minister II). To this day, he could not explain what the units were," said Mustapha.

The US Department of Justice's third civil forfeiture suit filing on 1MDB provided a glimpse into what were Brazen Sky's "fund units" which it described as "relatively worthless".

It also detailed how 1MDB tried to cover this up by cycling the same amount of money over and over again to make it appear as if the company was redeeming its investment.

The DOJ believed at least US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by among others, Malaysian government officials, and is looking to recover around US$1.7 billion of assets allegedly acquired using the stolen funds.

The DOJ's involvement was in response to the funds being circulated through the US financial system.

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