The spin masters in the Prime Minister’s Department are operating in full swing to deflect any blame on Dato’ Seri Najib Razak over the damning Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report which has been tabled yesterday on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Dato’ Seri Azalina Othman went so far as to say that the report also confirmed that the Prime Minister did not commit any offences or contribute to any criminal offences, hence proved that all allegations made against him were baseless.
Worst, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak himself attempted to make light of the highly incriminating PAC Report by focusing on the irrelevant – that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad made a mistake by claiming that “RM42 billion is missing”. It is irrelevant because the point of the PAC Report wasn’t to determine “RM42 billion was missing” but how billions of ringgit might have been improperly siphoned.
Dato’ Seri Najib Razak must be the most irresponsible Finance Minister in history who is more interested in political rhetoric than the scores of misdeeds outlined in the PAC as well as the Auditor-General’s Report. Just because one man cited the wrong figure for the amounts of funds which were not accounted for, does not mean that there were no billions of dollars which went missing.
We have already established that at least US$5.5 billion of 1MDB’s cash and assets could not be verified by the Attorney-General after a year of investigations.
Hence, at the very least, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who is also the Finance Minister must be held to be ministerially accountable as 1MDB is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance (MoF). In fact, the debt which has been accumulated by 1MDB amounting to RM55 billion as at October 2015 is even larger that the entire RM32.3 billion budget for the Ministry of Finance in 2016!
The degree of ministerial accountability is even higher, given the specific provisions of 1MDB’s Memorandum and Articles of Association (M&A) which required the explicit written endorsement of the Prime Minister for every single substantial transaction carried out by 1MDB. Hence the Prime Minister had personally signed all written resolutions approving its investments in the failed US$1.83 billion Petrosaudi joint venture, the borrowing of US$6.5 billion of bonds, the multi-billion ringgit acquisition of the power plants and real estate as well as the sacking of both external auditors, Ernst & Young and KPMG.
Worse, the M&A of 1MDB explicitly forbids the appointment of any MoF officials in the company, which could have acted as an additional check and balance on the rogue management. The lack of oversight at the level of the Finance Ministry, as testified by the Treasury-General, Tan Sri Irwan Serigar himself to the PAC, only further increases the culpability of the Prime Minister in the entire scandal.
If the Prime Minister hadn’t personally approved these resolutions, then none of the shenanigans cited by the AG could have taken place. Hence, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak was either very stupid and reckless to sign these resolutions without proper consideration or he was very much part and parcel of the 1MDB scam. Either way, the Prime Minister must take responsibility and be held accountable.
Finally, and most importantly, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has failed to direct 1MDB to cooperate with the AG and the PAC by providing all necessary financial statements, particularly its banking records and statements overseas. Given that the allegations of impropriety by the Prime Minister, especially over the US$681 million “donation” scandal are all transacted overseas, there was no way for the AG or the PAC to clear the Prime Minister of these allegations.
Hence all attempts by the BN Ministers to exonerate Dato’ Seri Najib Razak of any culpability in the RM55 billion 1MDB financial scandal are well off the mark. If Dato’ Seri Najib Razak wants to remove any suspicions of links between 1MDB’s overseas funds and himself, then he must immediately reprimand 1MDB and direct 1MDB to hand over all its banking records overseas to the PAC and AG for further scrutiny.
If not, then Dato’ Seri Najib Razak will be further tainted with the perception that he is afraid of the truth being discovered and he has much to hide.