Friday, May 22, 2015

A Very "Costly" Mistake - Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Blames 1MDB Asset/Cash Mix-Up on Mistaken Impression


Second Finance Minister Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah’s excuse that the mistake over “cash” or “assets” in 1MDB’s BSI Bank Singapore’s bank account due to “wrong impression” is lame, unbelievable and inexcusable.

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak finally confirmed what Malaysians feared earlier this week that there isn’t any cash redeemed from the Caymans investment. Instead, whatever held in BSI Bank is only in the form of “assets”.

The Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah further explained yesterday that the error was due to a mistaken “impression”.

“There’s a mistake… mistake in the sense that, the impression (given by 1MDB) when they said they have redeemed (the funds) and saved (them) in the Singapore bank (Singapore BSI).... so the impression is that there’s cash, (but) actually that is a saving,” Ahmad Husni said told reporters at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

“That (the redemption) is (in) unit... that’s what it is… in unit, and then, that is being backed sovereign wealth funds,” Ahmad Husni said.

The “mistake” by 1MDB and/or Ministry of Finance (MoF) due to a wrong “impression” is not only lame and inexcusable, it is unbelievable and inexcusable. How can anyone one given the responsibility of managing US$1.1 billion (RM4 billion) in a bank account make such an audacious error of mistaking assets for cash?

Who is to blame for such a massive mistake? Is it the MoF which misunderstood 1MDB, or was it 1MDB which provided MoF with the wrong information?

In fact, we can’t even be sure if Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni understood what exactly is deposited the BSI Bank, now that he is describing the assets as “in unit”. After all he has been giving various misleading information in Parliament over the 1MDB scandal even in the last sitting, particularly over the role of CIMB Bank in the sale of 1MDB’s energy assets.

More critically, the various press statements by the President and Executive Director of 1MDB, Arul Kanda specifically confirmed that the money was kept in cash in Singapore, with the specific purpose to repay the interest for 1MDB’s US Dollar denominated bonds.

Arul Kanda in an interview with the Singapore Business Times published on 7 February, announced that “as we have US$6.5 billion (RM23.06 billion) in bonds out there, in which interest payments come up to nearly US$400 million (RM1.4 billion) a year.”

The 1MDB President specifically stated, “the cash is in our accounts and in US dollars. I can assure you (about that)... I have seen the statements.”

Hence what statements did he actually see? Did he also succumb to a mistaken “impression” of the US$1.1 billion in the bank statement too? After all, Arul Kanda boasted that 1MDB made a profit of US$488 million which were included in the “cash” of US$1.1 billion above.

The repeated patterns of half-truths, misleading statements and outright lies over the 1MDB fiasco have resulted in a complete distrust for the discredited Barisan Nasional Ministers and 1MDB senior executives. The only way for them to regain any semblance of credibility is to publish the actual BSI Bank statement reflecting these “units” of “assets” that are allegedly worth US$1.103 billion.

Surely the Ministers of Finance can demand the statement from 1MDB and make available the information to the Malaysian public? Or would they rather hide the information because the statements will reflect worthless “units” of “assets”?

The sheer dishonesty, the scale of the cover up and the magnitude of incompetence certainly justified the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s call for the entire Board of Directors of 1MDB to be sacked.

However, that’s not enough. We have 2 Finance Ministers and 2 Deputy Finance Minister, all four of whom have been utterly incompetent and clueless over the entire RM42 billion scandal. If they are not able to even provide Malaysians with simple accurate information as to whether the US$1.1 billion is in “cash” or “assets”, or what exactly these “unit” of “assets” are, then their heads should roll too.



Tony Pua


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