Monday, July 31, 2017

Auditor-General and PAC Chairman's decision not to pursue 1MDB scandal proves that they are compromised and unfit to protect the interest of Malaysians

Malaysians are aghast, but perhaps not surprised, that both the new Auditor-General, Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad and the Public Accounts Committee Chairman, Datuk Seri Hasan Arifin have decided against pursuing the 1MDB investigations and audit further.

This is despite the fact that the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) had over the past one year, revealed new explosive evidence and details of how the billions of dollars of 1MDB funds have been misappropriated, stolen and laundered all around the world.

Most incriminatingly, the US DOJ suits detailed how more than US$732 million (RM3.1 billion) flowed in and out of the Prime Minister’s personal bank account between 2011 and 2014.  The specific dates and amounts of funds transferred, as well as the respective banks involved are listed in Table A on below.

Even the most partial observers would have to concede that there is a prima facie case to investigate the flow of funds, to determine the veracity of the allegations contained in the US DOJ report.  The investigators in the United States did not pluck these transactions out of the sky, but have meticulously corroborated all evidence with all the international banks across the world from global banks like Standard Chartered Bank to private banks like Falcon Bank of Switzerland.

None of the above transactions were investigated or were made available to the previous Auditor-General Report by the then Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang as well as the Public Accounts Committee Report tabled in Parliament in April 2016.

The Auditor-General then had reprimanded 1MDB for refusing to hand over its foreign bank account statements and transaction verifications despite multiple requests.  However, even without the above, there was sufficient damning evidence of abuse and mismanagement within 1MDB for the PAC to table its critical report last year. 

Now, with the scale of new explosive details of the scandal surfacing since the April 2016 Report, any God-fearing and responsible Auditor-General or PAC Chairman would have demanded a re-opening of their investigations.

While the PAC had a meeting yesterday to receive the latest Auditor-General’s Report, there was no discussion of pursuing the 1MDB investigations.  Instead Dato’ Seri Hasan Arifin unilaterally told the media that the Committee will not re-open the case.

On the other hand, Tan Sri Madinah Mohamad merely added her department would do so only if it receives instructions from the Cabinet.  Such instruction would never come of course, given the blatant conflict of interests involved with the Finance and Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak directly implicated in the massive scandal.

Their refusal to pursue the investigations only serves to entrench the rakyat’s perception that they are stooges installed by Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to protect the latter from the outrageous scandal.  After all, it has been exposed previously that Tan Sri Madinah is or was an UMNO Kepong Division member where her husband is the Division Chairman, Datuk Rizuan Abdul Hamid had openly expressed his willingness to “die for Najib”.  On the other hand, Dato’ Seri Hasan Arifin was installed as the PAC Chairman after the previous Chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan was “promoted” to become a Deputy Minister.  Dato’ Seri Hasan had in his own words, rejected the need to summon Dato’ Seri Najib to the PAC because he has to “cari makan”.

These top officials have betrayed the interest of the rakyat and are traitors to their race, religion and nation.  If they have any iota of honour left in them, they should resign from their positions and let others who have the interest of Malaysians at heart take over these posts.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Is Treasurer-General and 1MDB Chairman, Tan Sri Irwan Serigar aware of a third ‘secret’ Letter of Support for 1MDB’s US$975 million borrowing from a Deutsche Bank-led consortium in September 2014?

The latest suit filed by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) last month exposed a new allegation Dato’ Seri Najib Razak signed a ‘secret’ Letter of Support for 1MDB to secure a US$975 million loan from a Deutsche Bank-led consortium in September 2014.

The US DOJ suit stated that Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, referred to as “Malaysian Official 1 (MO1)”, “on behalf of the Government of Malaysia, provided a Letter of Support to Deutsche Bank in connection with the $975 million loan.”

This would have been a third Letter of Support issued by Dato’ Seri Najib Razak as the Finance Minister to effectively guarantee borrowings by 1MDB.  The letters had stated that “in the event 1MDB… fails to provide the required funds, Malaysia shall then step in to inject the necessary capital into the Issuer or make payments to ensure the Issuer’s obligations are fully met”.

The DOJ suit further noted that “internal Deutsche Bank records reflect that 1MDB officials opted to provide a Letter of Support signed by MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1, rather than some form of guarantee by 1MDB… at least in part because a letter of support did not require Bank Negara or Cabinet approval. At the request of 1MDB, all references to the Letter of Support were removed from the Facility Agreement.” 

I had submitted a question to the Finance Minister to confirm the existence of the letter in the current parliamentary sitting.  However, the question has been inexplicably rejected by the Speaker on the ultra-flimsy grounds of presumably questionable assumptions (“sangkaan”).

I had last week issued a statement via a press conference seeking answers from Dato’ Seri Najib Razak himself as to whether he had indeed issued this “secret” Letter of Support and whether he had the authorisation from the Cabinet and Ministry of Finance to do so.

However, the questions posed have been met with utter silence, whether from the Prime Minister himself or from his Cabinet cheerleaders.

I can fully understand why the Prime Minister might want to remain absolutely silent so as not to incriminate himself with any answers he may provide.

Hence, I now pose the same questions to the Treasurer-General of the Ministry of Finance, Tan Sri Irwan Serigar who has also been appointed as the Chairman of 1MDB just a year ago.

As the Treasurer-General of Finance Ministry, is Tan Sri Irwan Serigar aware that the Minister of Finance had signed a third Letter of Support for 1MDB in September 2014?  The official reply provided by the Minister of Finance in March 2016 stated that there were only 2 such Letters of Support issued in March 2013 for US$3 billion and another in March 2015 for US$150 million.

Was the reply which would have been prepared and approved by the Treasurer-General mistaken? Or was he, horrors of horrors, completely unaware that a third ‘secret’ Letter of Support had actually been issued by the Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.

Secondly, even if he was not previously aware of the ‘secret’ letter, Tan Sri Irwan Serigar, as the Treasurer-General and 1MDB Chairman, must surely investigate.  Has he called Duetsche Bank to verify the existence of the Letter of Support as alleged by the US DOJ?

If Tan Sri Irwan fails to do the simple task of calling up the Bank to confirm this information, then he has betrayed the trust of Malaysian tax-payers as the most senior financial civil servant in the country today.

If he is unable to protect the financial interest of the 30 million Malaysians in the country, then he is completely unfit to continue in his position, both as the Treasurer-General and the 1MDB Chairman.

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak must come clean as to whether there was another undocumented “letter of support” for 1MDB in 2014 to borrow US$975 million from a Deutsche Bank-led consortium

In November 2014, when it was first discovered that Dato’ Seri Najib Razak had signed a “letter of support” to enable 1MDB to secure a US$3 billion bond in March 2013, it was immediately met with denial in Parliament.

On 6 November 2014, Datuk Ahmad Maslan, the then Deputy Minister of Finance had insisted in Parliament that the Government did not issue any such “letter of support”.  However, a few days later, he conceded to the media that such a “letter of support” existed and he was ultimately forced to apologise to the House for his “error” on 18 November 2014.

The existence of this “letter of support” had major financial implications for the Government because it stated that “In the event, 1MDB has shareholder of the issuer fails to provide the required funds… Malaysia shall then step in to inject the necessary capital into the issuer or make payment to ensure the issuers obligations are fully met.”  This meant that the Malaysian Government had effectively guaranteed, one way or another, the US$3 billion 1MDB borrowing above.

As reported by The Edge Financial Daily on 12 November 2014, Datuk Ahmad Maslan had said that there was “no other letter of support for 1MDB apart from the US$3 billion” during a media conference at the Parliament.

Further on 16 March 2016, when questioned by the Member of Parliament for Indera Mahkota, Dato’ Fauzi Abdul Rahman, the Finance Minister had confirmed that there were only TWO “letters of support” which was issued by the Government, including another for 1MDB’s US$150 million borrowing from Bank Exim in March 2015.

However, we have since discovered, via information provided by the latest United States Department of Justice filing to seize assets acquired with funds laundered from 1MDB that there exist another secret “letter of support” to borrow US$975 million from a Deutsche Bank-led consortium in September 2014.

The US DOJ suit stated that Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, referred to as “Malaysian Official 1 (MO1)”,
“on behalf of the Government of Malaysia, provided a Letter of Support to Deutsche Bank in connection with the $975 million loan.”

The suit further noted that “internal Deutsche Bank records reflect that 1MDB officials opted to provide a Letter of Support signed by MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1, rather than some form of guarantee by 1MDB… at least in part because a letter of support did not require Bank Negara or Cabinet approval. At the request of 1MDB, all references to the Letter of Support were removed from the Facility Agreement.”

Like the earlier “letters of support”, the Government agrees to financial support to 1MDB to ensure the company’s ability to repay. Dato’ Seri Najib Razak even “waived its sovereign immunity in connection with disputes arising out of the Letter of Support”.

I have submitted a simple question in the current sitting asking the Prime Minister to confirm if he had indeed issued a “Letter of Support” in connection to the US$975 million loan from Deutsche Bank.  The question has been rejected on the basis that it was “sangkaan”, or “presumably questionable assumptions”.

There was no assumptions in my question.  I had asked a simple matter as to whether there was indeed a “letter of support” issued in September 2014.  If there isn’t, just say “no”.  What’s so difficult?

Both Dato’ Seri Najib Razak and the Parliament’s refusal to entertain the simple factual question only serves to confirm the suspicions in everyone’s minds that such a secret guarantee was indeed issued.  Dato’ Seri Najib Razak cannot come to the Parliament to say “yes” to the question simply because it would mean that he had previously lied to the Parliament when he said there were only 2 such letters for the sums of US$3 billion and US$150 million.

This further raises the question as to whether Dato’ Seri Najib Razak had issued the letter without the Cabinet’s approval or for that matter, without the knowledge of the Finance Ministry – which will be a clear cut abuse of power by the Prime Minister.  I will confer with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, the former Deputy Prime Minister to confirm if such a “letter of support” which binds the Malaysian Government was ever discussed in the Cabinet.

If not, then the Attorney-General must commence immediate investigations over the possible criminal breach of trust, abuse of power and even fraud against Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak must answer what happened to the US$3.51 billion 1MDB said it has paid to IPIC or its subsidiaries

Yesterday, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak told the Malaysian and international investment community that there were only “lapses in governance” in 1MDB but he has “ordered investigations into the company at a scale unprecedented in our nation's history”.

If it were indeed true that investigations were are an “unprecedented” scale, then the investigators must be the most incompetent ever seen in Malaysian history.  This is because to date, the key questions surrounding the various dodgy investments by 1MDB and the billions of ringgit misappropriated, often to entities owned by Jho Low have never been explained.

In one of the few questions with regards to 1MDB which was not rejected by the Parliament Speaker, I had asked Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who is also the Finance Minister, why did we assume the liabilities of IPIC’s guarantee for 1MDB’s US$3.5 billion worth of bonds when 1MDB claimed that we have already paid IPIC or its subsidiaries the sum of US$3.51 billion.

1MDB, via its President and CEO, Arul Kanda, testified to both the Auditor-General and the Public Accounts Committee that 1MDB had already paid US$1.367 billion in collateral deposits in 2012, US$993 million in options termination compensation in 2014 and an additional US$1.15 billion in “top-up security deposit” also in 2014 to the IPIC group.

In the Finance Minister’s reply, he stated that 1MDB “is responsible for all future interest payments and the repayment of the principal for the 2 bonds” while the Ministry of Finance Incorporated has provided IPIC with the relevant “undertaking” and “indemnity”.  This effectively means that the Malaysian government has taken over the guarantee from IPIC.

The problem is, despite the boast of “investigations… at a scale unprecendented in our nation’s history”, Malaysians are no nearer to finding out what happened to the US$3.51 billion we have already paid.

And it is very apparent that the Prime Minister is also hiding this information via a convenient “lapse of governance” because he failed to answer this question in his parliamentary reply.

It is as if the US$3.51 billion paid to the IPIC group previously was but a minor detail, or an insignificant “lapse in governance” which didn’t require any justification or concern on the part of the Government.

Hence Dato’ Seri Najib Razak is only showing the thickness of his skin by trivialising the unprecedented scale of the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal and dismissing the Opposition protests as blowing the issue “out of proportion”.

Instead, the continued secrecy of the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB and the refusal to entertain 1MDB questions in Parliament seriously only leads to the public believe that the US$3.51 billion above, and more other billions of ringgit have been misappropriated, or worse, stolen at “a scale unprecedented”.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Yes, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, the Opposition blew up 1MDB issues to topple the Government because we are now a world-renown kleptocracy

For the local and foreign investors listening to the Prime Minister’s speech when opening the InvestMalaysia 2017 conference, it must have been an utterly surreal experience.

While he acknowledged that there “were lapses in 1MDB's governance”, and he had “personally given instructions for a rationalisation of the company's operations”, he denied culpability and even blamed the Opposition for fanning the flames.

"But let's not forget that while there were issues in 1MDB, certain politicians blew them out of proportion, and tried to sabotage the company, in an attempt to topple the government in between election cycles,” he said. 

In a parallel development, the opening of the mid-year Parliamentary sitting this week saw more than 30 questions thrown out for utterly bizzare and frivolous reasons.

My question on the current value of the 1MDB “units” investment and who is the custodian bank was rejected because they apparently contained questionable assumptions (“sangkaan”) and were a figment of my imagination (“buah fikiran”).

My question on whether the Attorney-General had investigated the claims made in the latest United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) suit to seize up to US$1.7 billion worth of launder assets from 1MDB funds was similarly and incomprehensibly rejected because it was deemed a “sangkaan”. 

I had a total of 5 questions relating to 1MDB which were rejected.

The investors on the floor would have loved an opportunity to ask the the Prime Minister, if he had indeed done no wrong, why would he not just give simple answers to the simple questions above? 

In fact, Malaysians would also like to know why Dato’ Seri Najib Razak only has the courage to deliver his “defence” of 1MDB with a straight face to an audience without a opportunity to raise questions, and refused over the past 5 years to address the Parliament? 

In fact, the Prime Minister would have had the best opportunity to make the Opposition look like complete idiots if it were true that the latter was blowing the issue “out of proportion”.

What’s more, Malaysians would also like to know why Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has refused to comment on the origins of the US$731 million which was deposited into in personal bank account in Malaysia since the anti-kleptocracy action was filed in July last year by the US DOJ?

How about the latest expose last month where the US DOJ also discovered that a 22-carat pink diamond necklace cum ring was purchased by the Prime Minister’s wife for US$27.3 million with money traced back to the sums deposited in his personal bank account?  Why haven’t the Prime Minister or the wife refuted the above “discovery”?

What’s more, while the Prime Minister wants to take credit to initiating investigations into the 1MDB fiasco, he failed to highlight the fact that he replaced the Public Accounts Committee Chairman with Dato’ Hassan Ariffin who refused to summon the Prime Minister for questioning because he had to “cari makan”.  The Prime Minister also ‘retired’ an Attorney-General who was about to prosecute him and he refused to instruct 1MDB to comply fully with the Auditor-General after the company failed to provide any of its overseas bank records and statements for audit.

Let us make it clear that the Opposition did not sabotage 1MDB.  The Prime Minister and the 1MDB top management did the sabotaging by carrying out misappropriations exceeding US$5.7 billion (RM25 billion) resulting in the company failing to meet its debt obligations.

However, we are in agreement with the Prime Minister that we are indeed fanning the single largest financial scandal in the history of Malaysia.  This is in order to topple his disgraced administration, which has become a renown kleptocracy in the eyes of the world.

The investment community are not gullible fools who would believe the naked emperor.  Their confidence in the country will only be returned when a new clean and competent government gets elected by 2018.

Dato’ Seri Azalina Othman’s denial of a massive parliamentary cover up over 1MDB questions by the Speaker has no credibility whatsoever.

Opposition Members of Parliament were in a state of shock yesterday upon taking our seats at the start of the second sitting this year.  More than 30 questions, all of which concerns the single largest financial scandal ever to hit Malaysia, 1MDB were rejected by the House Speaker.

While some of our athletes are making inroads overseas and breaking new records, Tan Sri Pandikar Amin is determined not to be left out of the party.  The Guiness Book of Records of Malaysia must take note of the sheer incredible scale of rejection of parliamentary questions in a single sitting. 

I myself had 5 questions rejected – possibly an individual parliamentary record in itself.

The opposition uproar was met with an ‘official’ denial by the Minister in-charge of parliamentary affairs, Dato’ Seri Azalina Othman who described the “cover-up” allegations as “utterly baseless”.  The fact that a member of the executive, who is an interested party in the scandal, had to step forward to defend the Speaker who is supposed to be impartial in the running of the august House speaks volumes.

Dato’ Seri Azalina even had the cheek to reprimand the Opposition MPs and asked them to “give precedence to issues that concern people under their respective constituencies”.

The blinkered Minister obviously doesn’t realise that my constituents voted for me overwhelmingly not because I spend my time debating about drains and potholes in my constituency – although those problems are dealt with by my office with the local council.  They gave me a very specific mandate to not only check a corrupt and kleptocratic government, but also to expose all the wrong-doings of those who are in power.

In fact, as an MP who achieved the second highest majority in the country with 45,000 votes in the last general election, my constituents believe that their livelihood would be much better – less debt, better exchange rates and lower cost of living, if I succeed in throwing out the corrupt BN administration in the next round.

The Minister had argued that our questions were “against the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders”.

As an example, let me ask the Minister, how the following rejected question was “against the Dewan Rakyat Standing Orders”.

I had asked the Minister of Finance to

“menyatakan baki nilai terkini pelaburan ‘unit’ yang dimiliki oleh anak syarikat 1MDB, Brazen Sky Limited dan nama institusi bank atau kewangan yang kini menjadi ‘custodian’ kepada pelaburan tersebut”.

The Speaker had rejected the above question on the pretext of presumably questionable assumption (“sangkaan”) and a figment of my imagination (“buah fikiran”).

The Finance Ministers as well as 1MDB itself have openly stated that the company had investments in the form of “units” held with a “custodian bank” previously valued at US$2.3 billion, of which a substantial portion has apparently been redeemed.

Hence where is the “sangkaan” or “buah fikiran” in the above question when I was only asking what is the current asset value as well as which custodian bank was holding the “units”?

Instead, ironically, it is the refusal of the Speaker to approve and the Minister to answer the question that leads to a reasonable “sangkaan” that the “units” are fraudulent or are of minimal value, and perhaps there is no longer any “custodian bank”!

Tan Sri Pandikar Amin has unquestionably and possibly irreversibly condemned the Parliament into a kangaroo sitting.  Instead of leaving a legacy of reform which will lead us to the heights of a first world parliament, he has now disgraced the highest legislative institution of the land.