Most Read
Most Commented
Read more like this
After Adel's visit, Saudi elements in 1MDB saga still unexplained
Published:  Oct 27, 2018 1:06 PM
Updated: 7:33 AM

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir's 2006 comment that the multi-billion ringgit deposits in former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak were a "genuine donation" was back in focus following his recent three-day visit to Malaysia.

Adel was said to have made a "U-turn" after Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah revealed that his Saudi counterpart denied the money originated from his government.

To be fair, Adel had from the onset disassociated the Saudi government from the so-called "donation."

In an interview published in the New York Times on Feb 5, 2016, Adel said he did not think the money in Najib's account was from the Saudi government or a political donation.

"It is a private Saudi citizen, I believe, and the funds went to an investment in Malaysia," he had said.

However, two months later, after a meeting with foreign minister Anifah Aman in Istanbul on April 14, 2016, Adel (photo) went as far as calling it a "genuine donation."

"We are aware of the donation and it is genuine with nothing expected in return.

"We are also fully aware that the attorney-general of Malaysia has thoroughly investigated the matter and found no wrongdoing. So, as far as we are concerned, the matter is closed," he had said.

Saudi receipts

On Najib's end, he had produced receipts of fund transfer to him originating from the Saudi Arabia Finance Ministry.

Investigators have established that US$80 million did indeed originate from the ministry, which Adel did not explain in his comments.

Najib had often used the Saudi receipts to infer that the wider sum of US$971 million he received, which investigators believe originated from 1MDB, also came from Saudi Arabia.

This includes the US$681 million, referred to as the infamous RM2.6 billion based on the exchange rate when it was first exposed by Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal in July 2015.

The money originated from Tanore Finance Corporation, which Najib, citing letters, claimed originated from one "Prince Saud Abdulaziz Al Saud."

However, letters are not proof of ownership, and the US Department of Justice has established that Tanore is owned by one Eric Tan Kim Loong, an associate and proxy of Low Taek Jho (photo).

It also established that the money originated from bonds meant for 1MDB's joint-venture with the Abu Dhabi Malaysia Investment Company (ADMIC).

Apart from the mysterious Saudi Arabia Finance Ministry receipts, which is presently not a subject of investigation, personalities from the country were also involved in the laundering of 1MDB funds.

The DOJ had listed one "Saudi prince" which it also described as the co-founder of PetroSaudi International.

The co-founders of PetroSaudi were Tarek Obaid and Prince Faisal Bin Turki.

According to the DOJ and international reports, the Saudi prince had acted as an intermediary to channel at least US$120 million of funds, that originated from 1MDB's joint-venture with PetroSaudi, to Najib.

Questioning this Saudi prince would require the cooperation of the Saudi government.

Meanwhile, another US$170 million originating from 1MDB's energy bonds also ended up in Najib's bank accounts through Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partner Ltd as an intermediary, also beneficially owned by Tan.

In total, the sum was US$971 million, or more than RM4 billion based on the current exchange rate.

Najib had also repeatedly claimed that he returned the money, but the DOJ had established that the "returned" money was, among others, used to buy a US$27.3 million pink diamond pendant and necklace for Najib's wife Rosmah Mansor.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had rightly said that it was immaterial whether Adel had been flip-flopping.

The essential point is whether the Saudi Arabia government will extend its cooperation to resolve the Saudi elements in the 1MDB scandal.

For now, Saifuddin has said Adel had indicated that his government is willing to do so.


Please join the Malaysiakini WhatsApp Channel to get the latest news and views that matter.