Saturday, July 25, 2015

Do What Is Right For The Rakyat !

Are there no Ministers with any integrity and moral conscience left in the Cabinet?

As darkness descends over the country when the powers that be abuses the country’s laws to protect the despicable criminals, is there no integrity and moral conscience left in any of the 30-odd Cabinet Ministers?

The country’s most established and reputable financial newspaper group, The Edge had two of their publications suspended yesterday. The Ministry of Home Affairs stated that The Edge weekly and The Financial Daily were "prejudicial or likely to be prejudicial to public order, security or likely to alarm public opinion or is likely to be prejudicial to public and national interest".

They were not informed of any specific instance where their reporting were allegedly prejudicial to “public order” or “national interest”. Malaysians can only guess, in all likelihood correctly, that it is due to their coverage and exposés over the RM42 billion 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

Similarly earlier on Monday, the Government blocked the Sarawak Report website which was responsible for the exposé of the joint venture agreement between 1MDB and Petrosaudi International Limited as well as other incriminating emails and documents relating to the above transactions.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) even admitted that the website was blocked as a preventive measure despite not having any proof of wrongdoing by the website.

On Wednesday this week, I became possibly the first Member of Parliament in the history of Malaysia to be barred from leaving the country for unknown reasons. Again, I can only guess that it is due to my strident criticisms of the Najib administration over its management of 1MDB. In fact, if the Malaysiakini police source is to be believed, outrageous as it may be, I’m actually being investigated under Criminal Penal Code for carrying out “activities detrimental to Parliamentary democracy”.

All of the above draconian actions, perhaps with more to come, are carried out despite the clear facts which have been established against 1MDB. Despite previous assurances to the contrary, the Malaysian government was forced to grant 1MDB an emergency loan of RM950 million to service its mountain of debt in February this year. Subsequently in March, the Government gave 1MDB another “letter of support” which effectively guaranteed another RM540 million of loans from Bank Exim.

More recently in June, the Ministry of Finance had to be a party to an agreement with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) to indemnify the latter of its advances of at least US$1 billion to 1MDB. This desperate move was done to enable 1MDB to repay its US$975 million debt to a consortium of lenders led by Deutsche Bank.

All of the above proved beyond doubt that 1MDB has been disastrously managed. Documents which were leaked and published widely, only provided additional corroborating evidence of misappropriation, embezzlement and criminal breach of trust.

Hence, questions have been asked by many as to how the exposé of a multi-billion ringgit financial scandal of a wholly-owned Government subsidiary against national interest? The only way it could be against national interest if it were based on lies and fabricated information.

But if all these documents were indeed lies and fabricated information, why has 1MDB never disputed them and provided the undoctored versions? As the 1MDB imbroglio boiled over, there was never once 1MDB specifically refuted the allegations by The Edge, or the Sarawak Report or myself. The 1MDB executives have at best provided blanket or vague denials.

As a matter of fact, 1MDB President even lied to Malaysians that there was US$1.1 billion of cash sitting in a bank in Singapore, when in reality it was merely illiquid assets presented as “units” of indeterminate value.

Surely, we can expect some of the Ministers in the Cabinet, especially those who appear to be more intelligent like UMNO Youth Chief, Khairy Jamaluddin or Pemandu CEO, Datuk Idris Jala to see through the façade of lies and realise the sheer scale of shenanigans committed in 1MDB.

However, despite some presence of intelligence, there is clearly no moral conscience or integrity left in the souls of these Ministers. They may not be stupid, but they no longer care for what is right or wrong.

It appears to matter not that the country is being robbed, and the eye-witnesses and whistleblowers are being shackled and punished. They will not speak against corruption and injustice because they are only interested in preserving their own political status and power.

Tony Pua

Friday, July 24, 2015

Rahman Dahlan's Not Very Strategic Strategies Against Me

It is laughable how Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications Director Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan has to continuously shift goal posts in his attacks against me, each time after getting eggs on his face.

First Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan did his chicken dance to insinuate that I had met Xavier Justo without the courage to accuse me directly of meeting Justo in Fullerton Hotel in Singapore to alleged fabricate documents against 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Suddenly this line of attack goes quiet after I showed my passport which had only one stamp to Singapore over the past year on 19 March 2015, well after the documents were leaked by Sarawak Report at the end of February. (I was no where near Fullerton Hotel either, by the way.)

Then there was the cock-sure press conference where the BN Strategic Communications Director “dropped a bombshell”, as reported by The Star, when he claimed to have seen a video confession by an individual allegedly involved in falsifying information contained in media reports on 1MDB.

Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan said the complainant, Lester Melanyi claimed to have substantive evidence of malicious intent on the parties involved in executing a mission dubbed "Mission to Criminalise Datuk Seri Najib and 1MDB".

But that too ended up with more eggs on the Minister’s face as not only was Lester paid for his “confession”, Lester was a bankrupt and the information was fabricated to include a “master forger” who was really a transport company employee in Norwich.

After days of bravado over the video, the Strategic Communications Director finally accepted his strategic errors and ditched his video attacks on the critics.

Yesterday, Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan shifted the goal post again, this time, calling me “a prophet of doom”. I must say, I was somewhat stunned when he raised the matter that I had warned of the economic impact of Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s market dominance and cumulative debt in his companies.

He took issue what what I argued “that the Syed Mokhtar business empire's debt of RM34.3 billion could "genuinely cause fears of bailouts with taxpayer money". I said this fear was "especially real in the light of a global economic slowdown and a fallout from the Eurozone financial crisis". I had warned the government that "in the event of default, the rakyat's monies would not be made to pay for the follies of BN cronies".

I’m responding to him now asking, what’s wrong with my statement? The debts are huge and some of his companies such as Proton, are desperately seeking support, directly or indirectly from the Government. If an economic crisis hits Malaysia, the there is no doubt that a massive bailout will be required, just like what happened to UMNO-controlled Renong Bhd in the 1990s which had RM28 billion of debt.

But even without a crisis, the people are suffering from high prices due to monopoly of the rice and sugar trade. In fact, the rakyat has to foot increased taxes in the form of GST because the Government has awarded many directly-negotiated sweetheart deals to Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar’s companies, for example, the ultra-lucrative RM7.55 billion contract to supply of armoured personnel carriers.

Hence I absolutely standby everything which I’ve criticized on the Syed Mokhtar deals which are still published on my blog today.

At the same time, I’ve been questioning the highly dubious 1MDB transactions since March 2010 as well. Is the Minister serious suggesting that the RM42 billion indebted company isn’t doomed without a monster bailout from the Federal Government?

Was I not right to argue that the mounting debt was unsustainable? Isn’t it true to say that had the Government listened to the 1MDB critics way back in 2011 and 2012, the scandal-ridden company may not have needed such a massive bailout today?

So, Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan, what’s your point? Or you had none? Or that you merely want to distract attention from the Prime Minister who has yet to admit or deny that he had received nearly US$700 million in his personal bank account?

Tony Pua

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Curious Case of Lester Melanyi - How Low Can One Go ?

Lester Melanyi will receive a Letter of Demand from my lawyers this week and will have 7 days to retract and apologise for his widely publicized video statement.

Lester Melanyi has via his 2-part videos to date directly accused me of conspiring with other parties, foreign and local to fabricate and falsify information about 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in order to “cheat and lie” to achieve whatever alleged objectives.

The self-confessed paid “confession” by Lester Melanyi is packed with incredulous tall tales which even the most hardcore of Barisan Nasional supporters would find hard to believe. In the latest video, he even alleged that 90% of what is published by the Sarawak Report on 1MDB was fabricated and only 10% was truthful.

If it were indeed made up of 90% lies, then I am certain that the Sarawak Report stories would have been debunked and humiliated a long time ago by 1MDB. Instead, 1MDB had over the past 6 months steadfastly refused to rebut the specific allegations which were backed with attached documents.

That is the reason why Housing and Local Government Minister, Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan did his “chicken dance” to capitalise on the above allegations politically, but was too much of a coward to accuse me of the above crimes directly.

What stunned me was Lester’s “confession” that I had “communicated once” with him in January. Allegedly I had asked him whether he was “on this 1MDB mission” and he had responded to me that he wasn’t. Instead, he had allegedly told me “to communicate with Clare (Rewcastle) directly”

I was stunned because I’ve never known or heard of a “Lester Melanyi” in my entire life before the first video, much less “communicated” with him! I almost doubted myself and actually took the trouble to search for his name in my emails and contacts list, in case my ageing memory failed me. Fortunately, or unfortunately, Lester’s allegation was completely fabricated.

However, Lester’s videos weren’t just a mere work of fiction. It is a malicious attempt designed to destroy the reputation and credibility of those who were most critical of 1MDB. Lester’s accusations meant that I had cheated and lied in my criticisms against the scandal-ridden company and that I had also conspired with other individuals to do the same via the Sarawak Report.

It is shocking how low BN Ministers will go to – relying on a fictitious confession from someone with no credibility in order to taint the critics of the Government. They don’t even bother to do some simple background checks on their dubious sources. Perhaps that is understandable because they are so desperate to distract the people’s attention from the scandal-ridden Prime Minister who has yet to deny receiving nearly US$700 million in his personal account.

Unlike Dato’ Seri Najib Razak however, I will not be writing to Lester Melanyi to seek “clarification” on his video. I’ve directed my lawyers, Gobind Singh in Klang Valley and where necessary, Chong Chieng Jen in Kuching, to issue a letter of demand against Lester and anyone else who republish or repeats his utterly baseless accusations this week.

They will have 7 days to retract and apologise publicly for their false and malicious allegations, failing which I will immediately commence a legal suit against the relevant parties.

I certainly hope that whatever fees Lester received from BN or its affiliated NGOs for the made-up “confession” is worth his while, and more importantly perhaps is to request Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan to foot his legal bills.

Tony Pua

Thursday, July 16, 2015

PAS Has Every Right to Contest Against Us in the Next GE

It is the democratic right of PAS to contest in any and every seat in Malaysia, but perhaps they should be more worried about hanging on to most of their gains in the last General Elections.

I have read with mild amusement the announcement by PAS Election Director, Datuk Mustafa Ali, that the party will field candidates in DAP-contested seats in the next General Elections.

Let me state clearly that it is the democratic right of any party to field candidates in any seat throughout the country, and that would obviously include PAS. Datuk Mustafa Ali is even welcomed to field a candidate in Petaling Jaya Utara to provide the voters with an additional choice for selection.

As PAS has officially terminated all forms of political cooperation with DAP, this will include all cooperation between the parties in Selangor despite the fact that PAS representatives remain in the state government.

DAP Selangor has met and confirmed that we will not be providing any assistance or support to any PAS candidate in the state for the next general election.

Instead, I will direct all DAP leaders and branches in the state to start active work in certain seats contested by PAS with the objective of contesting them in the next general election.

These seats will include, but are not limited to:

No Constituency % Malay voters Majority % PAS
1 Seri Serdang 45.5% 16,251 62.9%
2 Dusun Tua 50.9% 4,701 55.1%
3 Taman Templer 50.9% 7,467 58.2%
4 Tanjong Sepat 52.0% 682 51.4%
5 Chempaka 53.1% 9,608 63.1%
6 Lembah Jaya 54.0% 8,713 60.5%
7 Paya Jaras 56.2% 5,522 57.2%
8 Meru 58.6% 9,079 62.9%

In addition, DAP Selangor would like to express our unequivocal support for PKR and any other parties contesting in Selangor which subscribes fully to the common policy framework. These parties should be able to work in a coalition built upon consensus, in the interest of protecting of all Malaysians in a democratic multi-racial environment.

The final list of seats DAP Selangor contests will ultimately be subjected to amicable negotiations with our new post-Pakatan Rakyat coalition parties which does not include PAS. The objective will be for the new coalition to continue our record against Barisan Nasional in Selangor and contribute towards winning Putrajaya in the next General Elections.

Tony Pua

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

And There Still Isn't a 1MDB Denial !

1MDB did not deny that the Financial Statements submitted to its lending banks were tampered.

I read with some amusement, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)'s rant against my accusations that the scandal-ridden company had tampered its March 2014 financial statements submitted ‎to its lending banks.

1MDB said, "it is unclear to 1MDB on what basis YB Tony Pua, a third party who is not a banker to 1MDB - nor privy to the company's internal dealings, is making such unsubstantiated and damaging allegations against 1MDB."

The heavily indebted company further added, ‎"in any event, interaction between 1MDB and its bankers, including confidentiality obligations, are governed by contract and national law."

It is now clear that the standard operating procedure for 1MDB if it is unable to answer straightforward questions is to first, discredit the critic or source and second, to cite "confidentiality obligations".

A simple read of 1MDB’s 3-paragraph statement will leave anyone crystal clear that there was no denial of the very serious tampering allegations. The “confidentiality” argument doesn’t even hold water because we are not asking for the documents to be revealed but whether the documents have been tampered.

1MDB further lamented that "‎such actions impact the day to day operations of 1MDB, a 100% government owned company, and the implementation of the 1MDB rationalisation plan."

However, 1MDB has no one to truly blame other than itself for any further damage ‎to its sullied reputation because it has pointedly refused to bury the allegations with an unequivocal denial.

While 1MDB tried to make light the situation by claiming that no Bank has declared an "Event of Default" on the distressed company, it should not forget that Deutsche Bank has only recently demanded an early repayment for its US$975 million loan because of similar breaches to the loan agreement.

The Singapore Business Times ‎had reported in May this year that the US$975mil loan was secured with 1MDB’s wholly owned Brazen Sky’s US$1.103 billion kept at Swiss private bank BSI Singapore.‎ The report, quoting sources, said the “securitisation document” for the loan has now been deemed “incomplete”, as one of the covenants was allegedly not fulfilled.

If ‎1MDB could mislead banks about its nonexistent cash in its bank account, then it certainly does not stretch the imagination for the company to tamper its Audited Accounts submitted to its lenders.

After 1MDB’s non-statement, there is now greater reason to believe that the audited accounts have indeed been doctored. As stated yesterday during my press conference, if discrepancies are found with the Financial Statements as I have alleged, I call upon the Bank to immediately file Police reports to protect its interest and that of its shareholders.

Tony Pua

1MDB Interim Report Will Silence Dato' Husni Hanadzlah's Lies

Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah blatantly lied that the preliminary report by the Auditor-General “has found no evidence of wrong doing” against 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)

As a member of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), we have been asked by the Auditor-General (AG) to embargo the findings and information provided in the Interim Report on 1MDB. The members of PAC hence refrained from making comments to respect the wishes of the AG while awaiting the completion of the full report.

However, I read with complete shock that the Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah issued a statement yesterday that “the Auditor-General investigating 1MDB’s activities has found no evidence of wrong doing”.

Why did the Minister have the special privilege of publicly commenting and concluding on the Interim Report when the PAC members were told to keep our mouths shut?

What is worse however, is the fact that the Minister blatantly lied about the findings in the Auditor-General’s Report. While I will continue to refrain from referring to the specifics of the Interim Report, any normal person reading the report will be stunned by the sheer number and scale of infractions and transgressions committed by 1MDB and its officers cited in the report.

Hence it boggles the mind as to why Dato’ Seri Husni Hanadzlah saw it fit as to make the unilateral announcement that the AG “found no evidence of wrong doing” to create the false impression that 1MDB has been cleared of all its alleged shenanigans.

The Second Finance Minister even took the trouble to point out that the “transfer of USD700 million to certain individual does not arise”. However, we don’t know if Dato’ Seri Husni was referring Dato’ Seri Najib Razak or Low Taek Jow as he who must not be named.

Regardless of who the Minister was referring to, the AG never cleared the “transfer of USD700 million” in the Interim Report. On the contrary, the USD700 million transaction raises many questions which the National Audit Department said it needed to investigate further before making its final conclusions.

Therefore, while the Minister had hoped that “all the baseless allegations will be put to rest”, the reverse holds greater truth. I have been very encouraged by the efforts which were made by the National Audit Department to discover the truth, despite the lack of cooperation given by 1MDB.

If the Minister still believes he is right and justified, I would echo the call made by the DAP Parliamentary Leader, Lim Kit Siang, for the Interim Report to be made public for all to judge.

At the end of the day, after reading the Interim Report, I am now convinced that all the lies, denials, mismanagement and misappropriations by 1MDB and all who are involved in the decision-making process will be duly proven and exposed.

Tony Pua

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Power of Sly Wordplay - Small Change, Big Difference

Did 1Malaysia Development Bhd doctor its March 2014 Financial Statements to its bankers?

1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has been making unsubstantiated accusations that the leaked incriminating information exposed by the Sarawak Report was “tampered”. Despite the many attempts to discredit the leaked information by 1MDB, the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Members, they were not able to point to a single expose made by the Sarawak Report which was allegedly “tampered”.

The irony is hence not lost when 1MDB itself has committed the same offence at a grander scale.

I call upon all Banks which lent money to 1MDB to refer the latest audited financial statements for March 2014 in their possession, provided by the company.

Based on the copy of the Audited Accounts obtained from the Companies Commission (SSM), the second paragraph of section 18 (ii) on page 93, should read

As of the date of this report, the amounts received from the redemption of investments of US$1.22 billion (RM4.03 billion) in the SPC above have been substantially utilised for the purposes of debt interest payment, working capital and payments to Aabar as refundable deposits pursuant to a Settlement Agreement to extinguish the Options Agreements…

However, the paragraph above has in all likelihood, been materially tampered. The copies of the Audited Accounts in the Banks’ possession would instead probably read

"…the amounts received from the redemption of investments of US$1.22 billion (RM4.03 billion) in the SPC above have been substantially set-aside for the purposes of debt interest payment, working capital and payments to Aabar as refundable deposits…"

By changing just one word, from “utilised” to “set-aside”, 1MDB has transformed entirely the meaning of the paragraph. Based on the certified true copy lodged with the SSM, the auditors confirmed that the US$1.22 billion redeemed has been more or less used up.

However, by amending to “set-aside”, the Audited Accounts would provide a false assurance to the lenders that 1MDB has already “set-aside” nearly US$1.22 billion of cash to pay them when the interest and loans become due.

In fact, I have valid reasons to believe that the above isn’t the only alteration on the 2014 Financial Statements by 1MDB. I call upon all lenders to 1MDB to peruse through the financial statements with a fine toothcomb to discover all the discrepancies between the original copy lodged with SSM, and the doctored copy in their hands.

This is a very serious issue because it would become a clear breach of warranty and representation made by the Company to the Banks. Such a breach would be automatically tantamount to an “Event of Default” typical in nearly all loan agreements between lenders and borrowers.

Based on publicly available information, 1MDB still owes RM3.5 billion to a consortium of 4 local banks – Maybank, RHB, Alliance and HwangDBS Bank. Other banks with hundreds of millions of ringgit in exposure to 1MDB include Ambank and Affin Bank. By triggering the “Event of Default”, all of 1MDB’s outstanding loans to these institutions will become immediately due and payable.

What is even worse is that the doctoring of 1MDB’s financial statements is a very serious criminal offence under the Penal Code. For example, Section 477A on “Falsification of Accounts” states that

Whoever… wilfully and with intent to defraud, destroys, alters, mutilates or falsifies any book, paper, writing, valuable security or account… or wilfully and with intent to defraud, makes or abets the making of any false entry in, or omits or alters, or abets the omission or alteration of any material particular from or in any such book, paper, writing, valuable security or account, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both.

If discrepancies are found with the Financial Statements as I have alleged, I call upon the Bank to immediately file Police reports to protect its interest and that of its shareholders.

In fact, if 1MDB is now so audacious as to doctor its financial statements, I am now seriously concerned about the integrity of the various documents which it has submitted to the Auditor-General – including the minutes of the Board of Directors, Directors’ resolutions and other relevant documents. I would be very worried if they have been similarly tampered to hide the wrongdoings of the company and its directors and officers.

Tony Pua

Friday, July 03, 2015


Why is the Home Minister intimidating the The Edge when it is 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) which has been giving flip-flop answers to the media?

The Edge Publications have confirmed that they have received a show cause letter from the Home Ministry which accused them of “publishing articles on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that have created confusion and doubts about the government and our financial institutions.” They were also accused of relying on an Internet portal for our articles.

Malaysians want to know why the Home Ministry is intimidating the media with regards to its dutiful reporting on the RM42 billion 1MDB scandal? The degree of intimidation is so brazen and crass that the show cause letter did not even specify the allegedly offending articles.

The show cause letter is also a culmination to the entire week of demonising the former employee of Petrosaudi International Limited (PSI), Xavier Justo who was arrested in Thailand for allegedly attempting to blackmail his former company. The Barisan Nasional (BN) controlled media, Ministers and BN leaders went into an overdrive to twist the arrest with the tampering of leaked documents and correspondences between PSI and 1MDB.

The above was a clear-cut, premeditated, calculated and concerted attempt to discredit the leaked information and consequently all negative criticisms of 1MDB. After all, in a quote attributed to Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it”.

What is important to note however, ever since the first explosive joint venture agreement between 1MDB and PSI was leaked in mid-February, neither 1MDB, PSI nor the Malaysian government has ever once specifically denied any contents of the relevant and cited exposed documents and email correspondences.

The above included highly incriminating conversations between Jho Low and his associates with PSI officials which points to how the former masterminded the entire transaction. They also included highly damaging documents pointing towards the illicit misappropriation of billions of ringgit of funds from 1MDB approved by the latter’s top management. The emails, documents and money trail also demonstrated how 1MDB’s funds were abused and disguised as foreign direct investment from the Middle East to acquire politically connected companies in Malaysia.

Despite the severity of the allegations, PSI, 1MDB or even Jho Low has not even bothered to provide a single iota of evidence to prove how the leaked data and documents were allegedly forged or tampered with over the past 5 months. Hence we would like to ask the Home Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi – on what basis are you issuing the show cause letter against The Edge Publications, or any other parties publishing these stories for that matter?

In fact, it would have made more sense if the Home Minister had issued a show cause letter to The Edge (or other local publications) for publishing some of the statements issued by the top management of 1MDB, which have since been proven to be outright lies.

For example, the President of 1MDB, Arul Kanda Kandasamy told the Singapore Business Times that the balance of US$1.103 billion of investment in the Cayman Islands have been “redeemed” and the “cash” was parked in a Singapore bank.

"The cash is in our accounts and in US dollars. I can assure you (about that) . . . I have seen the statements," said Mr Arul in an apparent attempt to calm rising anxiety over the status of these funds parked offshore which were managed by little-known fund managers.

The story was first published on 9 February 2015 and republished in nearly all local media. It was subsequently discovered that there is no US$1.103 billion of cash in the Singapore bank based on a parliamentary reply I received on 19 May 2015. The above is proof that Arul lied through his teeth because he even attempted to justify why the “cash” was kept offshore.

“There's a very sensible and simple reason for that… We are keeping the money in US dollars as we have US$6.5 billion in bonds out there, in which interest payments come up to nearly US$400 million a year," he said.

Unfortunately the ugly truth is, Malaysians remain clueless as to what exactly is parked in the Singapore bank remains a complete mystery even today.

Should not the Home Minister therefore go after the parties who have lied and misled Malaysians over the missing billions of ringgit of taxpayers’ money? Instead what we get is the disgraceful behaviour of the Ministry doing its utmost to gag and punish those who are public-spirited and acted with integrity to expose the wrong-doings, embezzlement, misappropriation and criminal breach of trust by public officials entrusted with tens of billions of ringgit.

Tony Pua

How is the Edge Expected to Defend Itself from Baseless, Vague Accusations?

Why do we have a Home Minister who doesn’t at all understand the rule of law and behave like a tin-pot dictator of a banana republic?

The Home Ministry has issued The Edge Publications a show cause letter accusing them of “publishing articles on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) that have created confusion and doubts about the government and our financial institutions.” The Edge was also are also accused of relying on an Internet portal for our articles.

However, the degree of intimidation is so brazen and crass that the show cause letter did not even specify the allegedly offending articles.

It was only fair that if The Edge was to be given a fair opportunity to respond to the letter, it must know what offence it has allegedly committed in the first place. Hence, The Edge rightfully requested for information on the offensive articles the paper has published more than 300 articles on 1MDB alone, Bernama, Bloomberg, Reuters, Business Times, Euromoney – alongside their own reporting from the media channels in The Edge Media Group.

However, the Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi dismissed the request for information outright in the most arrogant and unbecoming fashion.

"Whoever eats chillies will feel the heat, there is no need for them to ask us which articles involved matters which are not true… They should know." he reportedly told The Star.

The reply only proves that our Home Minister has zero sense of natural justice and tramples on the rule of law.

You cannot charge an accused of committing an alleged crime without informing the accused of the specific crime he has allegedly committed. This is among the first principles of natural justice of the English law, the European Convention of Human Rights and the United Nations.

How is The Edge expected to defend itself when it doesn’t even know what wrongdoing the Home Minister is accusing them of?

Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi should stop behaving like a tin-pot dictator of a banana republic. The Minister is making Malaysia the laughing stock of the world and destroying the country’s reputation in the process.

Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi must withdraw the show cause letter to The Edge if he can’t even specify which article did The Edge publish which was based on allegedly false information. His attention will be better appreciated to ensure that our enforcement agencies like the police are up to speed when dealing with the real crimes against the Government like the Mara property kickback scandal and the embezzlement of funds from 1MDB.

Tony Pua

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Do We Always Let Others Deal with Our Own Problems?

Is it a standard operating procedure of the Royal Malaysian Police today to abdicate investigations of high profile cases to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC)?

The Royal Malaysian Police was first criticised for being tardy with the investigations over the alleged embezzlement of Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) funds by its top executives over the purchase of a property last Tuesday.

The Australian police reacted within 2 days of The Age news report by raiding the offices and residences of the relevant protaganists in Melbourne. On the other hand, the Malaysian Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department director, Datuk Seri Mortadza Nazarene, said “We are always ready to help in any way but so far, we have not received any request from Australia. The investigation is being conducted in Melbourne and we can only get involved if local police ask for assistance”.

When the Malaysian police was then accused of failing to take action despite the fact that the crime involved the funds of Malaysian taxpayers entrusted with the Government agency, Mara, the Inspector General of Police (IGP) had the cheek to tell Malaysians that "We see no elements of CBT in this case, so the MACC will conduct the entire investigation" on the 28 June 2015.

This led to further criticism, asking how the Police so suddenly, and so quickly decided that there wasn’t any element of criminal breach of trust, or any other penal code offences in the disgraceful Mara scandal?

I had asked if it was because the Minister in-charge of Mara, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal declared on 27 June 2015 that the transaction was in accordance to procedure and hence, above board?

However, based on Section 405 of our Penal Code specifically states that “whoever, being in any manner entrusted with property… dishonestly misappropriates, or converts to his own use, that property… commits “criminal breach of trust”.

Clearly in this case, there is a prima facie case of Mara top officials “dishonestly appropriates the money” when they were entrusted to invest funds allocated to Mara by the Government. The misappropriation was carried out via the inflation of the price to acquire a property, Dudley International House in Melbourne.

The criticisms were particularly pertinent given that The Age has in its possession, "false invoices" to prove that a bribe was indeed paid. "This paperwork can all be provided to Malaysian authorities. It is already in the hands of the Australian federal police," according to the journalist from The Age, Nick McKenzie.

It is shameful that it is the Australian journalists who are asking the Malaysian Police the right questions. The Age and Sydney Morning Herald's Asia-Pacific editor John Garnaut asked, "[the officials] stole A$4.75 million in Malaysian government money, taxpayer money, and we documented this theft beyond any reasonable doubt. Is Mara arguing that the agency's officials could have gotten away with stealing more?"

The question Malaysians must similarly ask, why is Bukit Aman doing their utmost to wash their hands off the case, pretending that there is no crime committed under their jurisdiction? Perhaps more importantly, who are they trying to protect?

Tony Pua

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Response to Shafee's Plea for My Removal from the PAC

Is Datuk Seri Shabery Cheek so afraid that the 8 Barisan Nasional (BN) representatives in the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) can’t tackle one opposition member in the Committee?

First, we had the top UMNO lawyer, Tan Sri Mohammed Shafee Abdullah calling for me to recuse myself from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) five days ago. This call was subsequently supported by the Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Chairman, Tan Sri Shahrir Samad.

Yesterday, the demands for my removal escalated when the Minister of Communications and Multimedia, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek went on a rant against my position in the PAC.

"He should leave the PAC. He will not only shame the PAC, but also the parliamentary system itself… he is no longer qualified to sit in the PAC. He makes biased statements, he should be ashamed, his party should be ashamed, his supporters and those associated with him should also feel ashamed," he said.

I am very amused because I cannot for the life of me understand why I should be in anyway ashamed of the statements which I have made with regards to the monstrous RM42 billion 1MDB scandal. I am also clueless as to why my party, my supporters and “those associated” with me should feel ashamed about me bringing to light the misappropriations and mismanagement in 1MDB.

Conversely, I believe that the Malaysian public will be disgusted, and the credibility of the PAC severely jeopardised if I were to be forcefully removed from the PAC by Barisan Nasional.

Instead, those who should be “ashamed” are the Ministers and BN leaders wholeheartedly and blindly supporting the and the bailout of 1MDB taking place at the expense of tax-payers’ funds.

The Prime Minister for example, assured Malaysians only in October last year that there will be no bailout of 1MDB. But in February this year, he made a complete U-turn by extending an emergency RM950 million credit to 1MDB to keep it afloat.

The trust of public financial institutions are never lower when Lembaga Tabung Haji was called upon to rescue 1MDB with a RM188 million land purchase at RM2,774 per square feet in Tun Razak Exchange (TRX), when 1MDB purchase this same piece of land for only RM64 per square feet.

The Cabinet has even approved another “Letter of Support” to EXIM Bank to extend US$150 million of loan to 1MDB in March this year for a questionable land purchase in Pulau Indah. This is despite the fact that the wholly-owned government bank is not mandated to provide credit for domestic property purchases.

These BN Ministers and leaders are obviously afraid of being incriminated in the panel’s investigation on the troubled state-owned firm. As of two days ago, 1MDB has reiterated that President, Arul Kanda Kandasamy and former 1MDB CEO, Datuk Shahrol Halmi will attend the PAC hearing. 1MDB said that it “has every confidence in the PAC process and trust that the honourable members will carry out their role in a fair and professional manner.”

If Arul Kanda and Datuk Shahrol do not fear coming to the PAC with me as a sitting member, why are the ministers suddenly so fearful of me?

Nevertheless, I am even more surprised that these BN Ministers and leaders have absolutely no confidence that the 8 BN representatives in the PAC will not be able to perform their duties to contain or debunk any allegedly unfounded and frivolous claims I might raise in the meetings.

Therefore, let me re-emphasize the fact that there is absolutely no conflict of interest for me to sit as a member of the PAC over the 1MDB scandal. Instead, if the BN leaders are so concerned about shaming the investigation process, they should be asking Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to take leave as the Finance and Prime Minister as he is directly implicated in the RM42 billion scandal by the simple virtue of the fact that every single major transaction undertaken by 1MDB carries his explicit “written approval”.

How can Dato’ Seri Najib Razak be allowed to direct the manner, timing and mechanism of investigations over such a monstrous scandal where he is also a prime suspect?

Tony Pua

1MDB Denies IPIC Indemnification, Yet Another Saga of "Twist and Turn" Replies

Is 1MDB saying that IPIC misled the London Stock Exchange by announcing that the Ministry of Finance had indemnified IPIC in relation to the advance of US$1 billion and future additional payments on behalf of 1MDB?

1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has denied outright my allegation that the Malaysian Government has effectively provided a guarantee of up to US$4.71 billion or RM17.7 billion to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC).

I had alleged yesterday that the guarantee was provided in order to secure the agreement for IPIC to advance US$1 billion to 1MDB to settle its immediate outstanding loans, pay interests on 1MDB’s behalf for US$3.5 billion of bonds.

In addition, subject to the “transfer of assets” of “the aggregate value” of all of the above together with the US$3.5 billion bond by 30 June 2016, IPIC will also take over the bonds from 1MDB.

However, 1MDB swiftly denied the allegation, claiming that “neither the Ministry of Finance (MOF), nor the Government of Malaysia, have provided guarantees for the recent commercial transaction between 1MDB and IPIC.”

However, in its absolute denial, 1MDB made no reference at all to the fact that IPIC’s announcement clearly stated “1MDB and MOF have agreed to perform the obligations contemplated in the binding term sheet and to indemnify IPIC and Aabar for any non-performance, and vice versa.”

According to the Collins English Dictionary, “indemnify” means both 1MDB and MOF signed a binding term sheet agreeing “to secure against future loss” or “to compensate for loss” by IPIC.

In simple terms, if 1MDB fails to transfer the necessary assets of the required “aggregate value” to IPIC by 30 June 2016, MOF will be required to repay IPIC at the very least, whatever advances IPIC has made by that date. That will include the US$1 billion advance already paid, and an estimated US$209.7 million worth of interest incurred by the bonds over the next 12 months.

If IPIC were to further assume the US$3.5 billion of bonds, it would mean the MOF would have to indemnify an additional US$3.5 billion to IPIC. That will total up MOF’s contingent liabilities in the agreement up to US$4.71 billion!

The very simple question for 1MDB to answer then is, are they saying that IPIC misled the London Stock Exchange and its bondholders by claiming that MOF provided an indemnity to IPIC over the above “binding” agreement?

1MDB further alleged that I had “deliberately misled the public by failing to mention the crucial ‘and vice versa’ clause in relation to the ‘indemnity’, i.e. the indemnity applies both ways – to IPIC as well as 1MDB – in relation to performance of obligations by the parties”.

This is the classic misdirection tactic utilised by 1MDB whenever they are faced with difficult questions. I never disputed that IPIC also provided a “vice-versa” indemnity. But all the indemnity amounts to is the fact that IPIC has to advance the US$1 billion and pay for the year’s worth of interest, or 1MDB would not need to fulfil its part of the bargain on the “transfer of assets”. There is absolutely no loss involved for IPIC in such an event.

What’s more, IPIC has already fulfilled its obligations to advance US$1 billion to 1MDB and has “has assumed the obligations to pay (on an interim basis) all interest due under two IPIC guaranteed 1MDB financings”. Hence the question of IPIC indemnifying 1MDB is moot.

However, the MOF indemnifying IPIC isn’t moot. The indemnity effectively means MOF has guaranteed to pay IPIC in the event 1MDB fails its part of the bargain by 30 June 2016. The IPIC announcement was written as plainly in English as possible for the London Stock Exchange, targeted presumably at an English-speaking financial community.

Finally, if MOF was not needed to indemnify IPIC, then why should MOF be a party to the binding term sheet in the first place? If it is strictly a “commercial transaction” as claimed by 1MDB, why wasn’t it just between 1MDB and IPIC alone?

Once again, 1MDB should stop twisting and turning in its replies, or it will end up with eggs on its face again, just like the “redeemed” “units”, “cash” or “assets” farce.

Tony Pua

Monday, June 29, 2015

1MDBs IPIC Obligations, Government's Guarantee, Malaysian's Burden

Why did the Government give another US$4.71 billion of guarantee for 1Malaysia Development Bhd to raise the amount from International Petroleum Investment Corporation?

It was previous announced by the Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah, that “1MDB has entered into a binding agreement with the International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and its subsidiary Aabar Investments (Aabar)” where IPIC will make a “payment” of US$1 billion (US$3.75 billion), on 4 June 2015. This US$1 billion payment will be used to repay a US$975 million loan, in advance of its due date, to a syndicate of international bank lenders.

What the Minister failed to disclose however, is the fact that the binding agreement isn’t just between IPIC, Aabar and 1MDB. Instead, the Government of Malaysia is also an integral party to the agreement.

While the Malaysian Government was completely opaque, IPIC has announced on the London Stock Exchange the outline of the agreement on the 10 June 2015.

It disclosed that “on 28 May 2015, IPIC, Aabar, Minister of Finance, Inc., Malaysia (MOF) and 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) entered into a binding term sheet”.

The principal terms included:

1. on 4 June 2015, IPIC provided US$1 billion to 1MDB for 1MDB to utilise immediately to settle certain of its liabilities

2. from 4 June 2015, IPIC has assumed the obligations to pay all interest due under two IPIC guaranteed 1MDB financings amounting to US$3.5 billion with 5.99% interest coupons.

3. by 30 June 2016, IPIC is to have received a transfer of assets with an aggregate value of an amount which represents the sum of all the above payments as well as the US$3.5 billion of bonds

4. upon the completion of the “transfer of assets”, IPIC will directly assume liability for all payment obligations in the above bonds and forgive certain financial obligations of the 1MDB Group to the IPIC Group; and

Essentially, the above announcement states that IPIC will immediately advance US$1 billion and cover the interest payments for the US$3.5 billion of bonds over the next year. IPIC will also take over the bonds if by 30 June 2016, 1MDB transfers assets worth all of the above to IPIC.

The question hence arises as to why IPIC will be agreeable to provide such a huge advance to 1MDB, including the assumption of one year or US$209.65 million of interest payments for the “transfer of assets” which has yet to be executed, and their value determined?

Based on the IPIC announcement, we now know why the investment arm of Abu Dhabi was so remarkably “generous”. It was because 1MDB and, more crucially, MOF “have agreed to perform the obligations contemplated in the binding term sheet and to indemnify IPIC and Aabar for any non-performance”.

Effectively, the Malaysian Government has provided a US$4.71 billion (RM17.7 billion) guarantee to IPIC such that in the event 1MDB is unable to fulfil its obligations to transfer assets worth the same value to IPIC by 30 June 2016, the Government will indemnify IPIC by assuming the obligations.

This discovery is shocking as it will increase Malaysia’s contingent liability which stands officially at RM157.5 billion as of 31 December 2014, by more than 11%. Officially, the Government has already guaranteed RM5.8 billion of loans for 1MDB.

However, the “official guarantee” does not include other indirect guarantees. The Government has provided 1MDB with 2 letters of support to raise loans amounting to US$3 billion (RM11.25 bn) and US$150 million (RM540 million) in May 2013 and March 2015 respectively. The Government has also extended 1MDB with a direct loan amounting to RM950 million.

Together with the latest RM17.7 billion guarantee above, the total amount to be borne by the Government should 1MDB fail to repay their loans has inflated to a earth staggering RM36.2 billion ! This has outstripped Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN) which is backed by RM29.2 billion of government guarantee as the single highest recipient.

The Prime Minister must immediately explain the shocking development, the massive guarantee and effectively another attempted multi-billion ringgit bailout of 1MDB.

Tony Pua

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Reevaluate your Evaluations - "Discounted" Over-the-Top Prices Hints at Well-Disguised Bailouts

The proof of land valuations is in the pudding, or rather in the actual transactions which took place.

Recently, many companies – particularly government-linked ones criticized for their overpriced land purchases, have defended their acquisitions by referring to higher property valuations.

Out of the blue, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa has now claimed that Mara purchased the Dudley International House property at a price that was lower than market valuations at the time of purchase in 2013, according to a report in The Star.

Annuar reportedly told RTM1 in an interview yesterday night that the property was valued at RM71 million at the time of purchase. Thus, Mara's move to pay RM63.6 million for the property was because it was lower than market valuations, he said.

Firstly, the issue or scandal has never been about the actual valuation of the property Mara purchased. It was about the Mara top executives conspiring with the vendor and other parties to defraud Mara, and secure AUD4.75 million of kickbacks for themselves.

Therefore, even if Mara did indeed acquire the property for less than market valuation then, the Mara executives acted strictly against the interest of the government entity. Hence, why is Mara chairman suddenly raising this issue? Is it a step towards exonerating or diminishing the crimes of those who cheated Mara?

However, more importantly, was the valuation really RM71 million as alleged? If it was really RM71 million, it begs the question as to why would the vendor be willing to sell for a significantly lower price and yet still have to pay kickbacks to the purchasers? Were the vendor-developers stupid or astoundingly kind hearted?

Similarly, when 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) acquired a 125ha piece of land in Pulau Indah for RM294.37 million or RM21.80 per square feet (psf), I had accused 1MDB of overpaying. The property was last valued by Tadmax in its 2011 Annual Report for RM9.93 per square foot.

Both Tadmax and the Government on behalf of 1MDB, denied the allegation, claiming that the market value of the property is actually much higher. Datuk Chua Tee Yong has pointed out that the land was worth between RM55 to RM66 psf based on surrounding property transactions. He implied that 1MDB bought the land at a bargain.

If only it were true. Firstly, if the land was indeed worth RM55 psf, why would Tadmax, which was in deep financial trouble be agreeable to sell the piece of property for ‘only’ RM21.80?

Secondly, if indeed it is worth as much as RM55, wouldn’t Tadmax directors be failing their fiduciary duties to their shareholders to ensure that the latter receives maximum returns and value from the approved transactions? Would not the Securities Commission have red-flagged the transaction as against the interest of minority shareholders?

Similarly, when Tabung Haji was accused of bailing out 1MDB by acquiring a 0.64ha piece of land in Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) for RM188.5, the former justified that it was acquired at a discounted price. The Chairman of Tabung Haji, Dato’ Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim even boasted on the 10 May 2015 that there are already 3 firms queueing up to buy the piece of land from Tabung Haji. The quick-flip transaction would have enabled Tabung Haji to make an easy profit of RM5 million within 2 weeks.

A quick RM5 million profit would have been nice, except it has been 7 weeks since the announcement. There has been no buyer confirmed, not even any payment of a 1% earnest deposit. Anyone would have known that Dato’ Seri Abdul Azeez was making an empty boast. If it been so easy to secure a buyer for the property, 1MDB would have sold it to them long before Tabung Haji got its chance. After all, 1MDB is in severe financial crisis and is in need of all the cash it can lay its hands on.

Therefore all these attempts to absolve the crimes of the GLC executives by claiming that the assets were acquired below market value are all hogwash. Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, the proof of market value is in the actual money transacted.

If no one is willing to pay a higher price for the Melbourne, Pulau Indah and TRX properties, then at the very best what was paid was fair valuation. At worse, as we fear, these over-the-top prices are merely well-disguised bailout attempts to save financially stricken companies like 1MDB and Tadmax, or as cover for illegal kickbacks for corrupt officials.

Tony Pua

Friday, June 26, 2015

The MARA Controversy - Malaysian Money and Officials, But Our Investigation Stalls for an Australian Request

Why are the Malaysian Police so tardy when investigating Government-Linked Companies (GLCs)?

On 23 June 2015, The Age, an Australian newspaper reported that a “top” Mara officer, senior official and former politician have allegedly spent millions of government funds to buy an apartment block in Melbourne in a property scam.

In the exclusive report, the Australian paper alleges that “a group of super-rich Malaysian officials” overpaid by A$4.75 million (RM13.8 million) for an apartment block in the city in 2013. The trio had allegedly “overbid” for the building, called Dudley International House, from A$17.8 million to A$22.5 million (RM65.3 million), with the difference pocketed as bribes back home.

Within 2 days of the report, the Australian Federal Police officers have launched raids in Melbourne as part of an international bribery and money-laundering investigation involving high-ranking Malaysian officials, businessmen and the purchase of Melbourne property.

The Federal agents seized computers and files on Thursday morning from a home in Vermont South and it's believed several other properties were targeted across Melbourne. The urgency of the raid was necessary to prevent the tampering and destruction of valuable evidence.

Unfortunately, all we get in Malaysia is finger pointing among top Mara officials over who is ultimately responsible for the scandalous property transaction. There was no visible urgency among our law enforcement authorities to uncover the scandal and investigate those who were named and involved in the dodgy transactions at the expense of Mara.

All we have heard is that the Federal Commercial Crime Investigation Department director, Datuk Seri Mortadza Nazarene, said Bukit Aman was aware of the issue based on media reports, but had yet to receive any request from Australia.

“We are always ready to help in any way but so far, we have not received any request from Australia. The investigation is being conducted in Melbourne and we can only get involved if local police ask for assistance,” he said.

Malaysians cannot be blamed for feeling completely helpless that even the Police are not doing anything to uncover the crimes against institutions entrusted to judiciously protect. Why is Bukit Aman waiting for a “request from Australia” before conducting its investigations?

While the crime transaction may have taken place in Melbourne, the money is from the Malaysian government and the alleged criminals are all Malaysians residing in the country. Does that not give sufficient basis for the Police to urgently conduct its own investigations by conducting the necessary raids?

The heavy inertia doesn’t just stop at the recent Mara scandal. Malaysians today are staring at the single largest financial scandal in the history of Malaysian – the RM42 billion 1Malaysia Development Bhd imbroglio. However the Police has failed to demonstrate any sense of exigency despite the scandal boiling over for the past 6 months.

All we got was a short statement by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar who only confirmed “that the investigation is being carried out.”

In fact, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar even alluded to the fact that none of the key protagonists like Low Taek Jho or the top management of the 1MDB scandal have been called for questioning when he asserted, “…in commercial cases such as this, we do not arrest first and then investigate. We have to investigate it first and then only make the arrest if needed”.

As far as we are aware, no raids have been conducted either on the relevant companies.

Hence the speed at which the Australian Police have reacted to the media report puts our own force to shame. All we have is a Prime Minister who appeared more interested in emphasizing yesterday that all these culpable GLC bigwigs are “innocent until proven guilty”.

Tony Pua