Monday, August 14, 2017

UMNO Sec-Gen Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor should learn that while perception problems are often fixable, facts on the other hand, can’t be faked

UMNO secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said that Barisan Nasional must counter the perception created by the Opposition on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to win back the state, said.

He claimed the 1MDB issue had been solved, and UMNO now must fix the wrong perception that the Opposition had created.

"The 1MDB issue has been solved. The bad perception was created (by the opposition) to confuse the voters. So, Umno has to step in to clear the confusion," he said after opening the Petaling Jaya Utara UMNO division meeting yesterday morning.

If only UMNO and BN’s problems in Selangor were merely as simple as “perception”.  Indeed, if that was the only problem with 1MDB, it would have been extremely easy to fix.

The challenge for UMNO-BN, if Tengku Adnan hasn’t realised by now, isn’t a mere problem of perception.  It is the problem that their attempts fake facts have gained no traction, especially in Selangor where the thinking electorate do not fall, hook, line and sinker for BN’s lies.

The people of Selangor, what more in Petaling Jaya Utara, can see with their own eyes not how the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak and 1MDB is hiding themselves from “sensitive” questions about the RM50 billion monster scandal.

Why else would the Speaker of Parliament reject nearly all questions with regards to 1MDB even as innocuous as seeking to know the current value of 1MDB’s ‘unit’ investments previously held with the now-defunct BSI Bank in Singapore?

Why else would the Prime Minister not answer as to why is it that the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Apandi Ali claimed that the charges laid out in the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) were “politically motivated”?

It also isn’t a question of perception when 1MDB repeatedly failed to fulfil its obligations to repay its agreed instalment to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) amounting to billions of ringgit.

The people of Selangor are not so dumb as to not be able to see the fact 1MDB has suffered billions of ringgit of losses, as a result of a kleptocratic BN administration which will lead to Malaysians footing the RM42 billion 1MDB bill.

They can read between the lines when the Prime Minister failed to deny or explain the US$732 million which were deposited into his personal bank account in Ambank since the US DOJ exposed that the funds originated from 1MDB.  They can also deduce intelligently when his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, failed to explain or deny her acquisition of a US$27.3 million 22-carat pink diamond ring/necklace after the latest allegations by the DOJ.

Hence the biggest problem the BN administration faces isn’t a question of perception.  The biggest 1MDB problem facing BN is the people are staring at the bare indisputable facts which the BN leaders are only trying to sweep under the carpet.

Most importantly, we are confident that the people of Selangor will support the Pakatan Harapan coalition comprising of Bersatu, Amanah, PKR and DAP and reject all other parties who fail to crusade against the single largest case of robbery and kleptocracy in the history of Malaysia.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Arul Kanda’s disastrous record at 1MDB makes him the least qualified to take over the reigns of Khazanah Nasional

Malaysians were shocked to read the report by The Malaysian Insight on Thursday that Arul Kanda is one of the candidates being considered for the post of Managing Director of Khazanah Nasional.
The online portal reported that “a selection panel has been formed to look through the candidates who can take over from Azman (Mokhtar) whose contract expires in two years” and Arul Kanda is one of two outsiders being considered.

After the disastrous and disgraceful record at the debt-ridden 1MDB since his appointment in January 2015, Arul Kanda should be automatically disqualified from even consideration at the country’s sovereign wealth fund.

The latest catastrophe is the failure of 1MDB to fulfil its settlement obligations with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) in a timely matter.  Despite claiming since April 24 this year that its repayment to IPIC would be fulfilled via the “monetization” of 1MDB’s investment ‘units’ last known to be held in Singapore, IPIC had to twice extend the deadline for the first instalment payment scheduled on 31 July 2017.

1MDB has since managed to pay the “equivalent” of US$350 million on 11 August and would have up to 31 August to settle the balance of US$300 million.  However, even the above partial payment of the first instalment is shrouded in mystery as it is clear that the 1MDB ‘units’ have not been monetized while the source of the 1MDB funds were unclear.

In addition, Arul Kanda has botched the so-called rationalisation with the original attempt to sell 60% of Bandar Malaysia to the Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH) Sdn Bhd-led consortium.  Despite 1MDB having collected 10% of the sale amounting to RM741 million as “deposit”, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) had to terminate the contract due to IWH’s repeated failure to fulfil its obligations, it was MoF which had to refund the RM741 million “deposit” to the purchaser.

However, the worst deed of Arul Kanda has been to repeatedly lie to the Auditor-General, the Public Accounts Committee and Malaysians in general, to cover up the 1MDB scandal to ensure that those behind the multi-billion dollar misappropriation in the company would be let off scotfree.

For example, Arul Kanda is fully aware that 1MDB’s investment ‘units’ previously held at the now defunct BSI Bank, Singapore are fraudulent and more importantly are worth at best a tiny fraction of their purported US$2.318 billion in valuation.  The fraud has been uncovered by the United States Department of Justice, as reported in the additional civil suit filed in June this year.

However, despite having access to all the material documents and information, Arul Kanda has continued the pretence that 1MDB had already redeemed some US$1.3 billion worth of the ‘units’.  At one point Arul Kanda even told the 1MDB Directors that he has “seen the bank statements” that 1MDB had already received the proceeds in ‘cash’.

Today we know that the entire redemption exercise was a Ponzi-like round-tripping exercise using part of the proceeds from a Deutsche Bank loan to pretend that it’s the receipt from the ‘units’ redemption exercise.

Malaysians can only shiver in trepidation at the thought that a RM145 billion-Khazanah Nasional, which is relatively healthy today, would be helmed by the same person who hammered the final nail in 1MDB’s coffin.

The only thing more shocking I heard when I started sniffing around with regards to The Malaysian Insight report is the fact that Arul Kanda is also awaiting possible appointment as a Senator which comes with a Ministerial position.  If that were true, then it would be proof that the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak would only appoint those without a shred of honesty and integrity to the Cabinet.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

How did 1MDB make its “equivalent” of US$350 million payment to IPIC?

1MDB proudly announced that it has successfully made partial payment for the outstanding sum to Abu Dhabi’s IPIC, after twice having the deadline extended.

The beleagured company said “1MDB is pleased to announce that pursuant to the amendment dated  August 8, 2017, to the settlement deed with Minister of Finance (Incorporated) Malaysia and IPIC, 1MDB has now remitted to date, the equivalent of US$350 million to IPIC.”

When reading any statements from 1MDB, it is always like trying to solve an Agatha Christie murder mystery.  You need to scrutinise the statement for curious or incriminating clues.

For example, in this case, why did 1MDB say “the equivalent of US$350 million” as opposed to just a straightforward “US$350 million”, or whatever the amount is?

Normally, one would perhaps phrase “the equivalent of US$350 million” if the payment was not remitted in US Dollars but perhaps in this case in Ringgit Malaysia?  This clearly lends credence to the allegations that no Bank wants to process payments relating to 1MDB transactions for fear of partaking in a money laundering exercise, especially since US Dollar transactions would require re-routing via US Banks.

The Malaysian Insight had earlier also reported that the remittance was carried out via Maybank Bhd.  Does this mean that 1MDB circumvented its US Dollar remittance “technical problem” with Bank Negara granting approval for the remittance to be issued from Malaysia in Ringgit (or any other non-US Dollar currency)?

This mystery further begs the question – how did 1MDB get its money in Malaysia?  By all public pronouncements from 1MDB and by Ministers in Parliament, 1MDB certainly doesn’t have “the equivalent of US$350 million” or nearly RM1.5 billion in cash sitting around in its local bank accounts.

That’s when you refer back to 1MDB’s 24 April 2017 IPIC settlement announcement for more clues. Then, 1MDB explicitly stated that the company’s “obligations will be met by 1MDB, primarily via monetization of 1MDB-owned investment fund units”.

The last we know, these investment fund ‘units’ were held in the now-defunct BSI Bank, Singapore.  The last known value on the balance of these ‘units’ was US$940 million.

Hence, one would certainly like to ask 1MDB, if the source of the “equivalent of US$350 million” came of the sale of these ‘units’ overseas?  If that were so, wouldn’t the investment disposal proceeds not be in US Dollars?

That’s when you go back to 1MDB’s latest statement, hoping for an easy answer.  However, like any good 1MDB statement, you will never get an honest and straightforward answer.

1MDB disclosed that “all funds paid to IPIC are from proceeds of the on-going rationalisation programme”.  This time, it’s just as important to make inference from what is not stated, beyond what is actually stated.

Notice how in the current statement, 1MDB no longer makes any reference to the “monetization of the 1MDB-owned investment fund units”, which was previously included in all of 1MDB’s past responses on the issue, including two separate Finance Minister’s replies to me in Parliament.

If 1MDB’s “equivalent of US$350 million” payment to IPIC was not the proceeds from the ‘units’ sale, then where did the money come from?  1MDB has after all, sold or transferred all of its assets – both energy and real estate, and have already used such proceeds to pare down their humongous debt and interest payments.

Hence, the US$350 million question now is, did this money come from the Ministry of Finance, directly or indirectly via some convoluted “rationalisation” schemes?  1MDB and Dato’ Seri Najib Razak must come clean on the matter, especially since 1MDB has another US$300 million and US$603 million to pay by 31 August and 31 December respectively.

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Finance Minister II Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani should not bluff Malaysians by stating that the Government “has never given public funds to 1MDB to settle its debts”

According to Bernama yesterday, Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said that “the Finance Ministry (MoF) has never given any public funds to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to help settle its debt”.

The Minister must think that Malaysians are complete and utter idiots to be served what is one of biggest piece of cow dung amongst all the attempts to cover up the 1MDB scandal.

The Ministry of Finance has on so many occasions come to the rescue of 1MDB over the past 2 years involving billions of ringgit of tax-payers’ monies, and yet Dato’ Seri Johari has the cheek to tell us that the MoF “has never given any public funds to 1MDB”.

Among the most clear-cut examples are the RM800 million loan from SOCSO and another RM2.4 billion Bandar Malaysia sukuk bond which the MoF have assumed as a result of taking over TRX City Sdn Bhd and Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

The Auditor-General has reported that nearly all of the above proceeds of the 1MDB borrowings were never used for the development of the 2 property projects above.  Hence when MoF agreed to take over the property projects and assumed the liabilities, MoF has effectively “settled” 1MDB’s RM3.2 billion debt problem.

What’s more, when 1MDB had originally sold a 60% stake in Bandar Malaysia to an Iskandar Waterfront Holdings (IWH) Sdn Bhd-led consortium, they had collected, and presumably spent the RM741 million deposit which has been paid upon the signing of the sale and purchase agreement in December 2015.

However, when MoF terminated the sale due to IWH payment defaults, it was MoF who coughed up the RM741 million to refund the deposit paid by the consortium.   If the deposit, should have been refunded at all, it should have been by 1MDB, and not by the Malaysian tax-payers.

The above doesn’t yet include MoF subsidiary or subsidiaries which actually acquired properties from 1MDB in TRX at inflated prices.  The irony is, it was MoF who sold the land to 1MDB in the first place at dirt cheap prices.

We understand the conundrum Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani is facing as the 2nd Finance Minister who has fallen out of favour and having to defend the indefensible regain the Prime Minister’s favour.  It is now clear that he has been dropped by Dato’ Seri Najib Razak from handling the 1MDB imbroglio, particularly in the company’s multi-billion dollar dispute with Abu Dhabi’s IPIC.

However, the Second Finance Minister should not go to the extent to telling outright lies to pull the wool over the people’s eyes.  Dato’ Seri Johari should not forget his role and responsibility to the people of Malaysia by sacrificing his own integrity and honour.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

No Malaysian or international is willing to help 1MDB launder funds via the sale of fraudulent investment ‘units’ to cover up 1MDB’s debt to IPIC

1MDB has failed to meet its own self-imposed deadline to repay its debts to Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC). The first instalment of US$602,725,000 was due on 31 July as part of the settlement arrived at the London Arbitration Court between IPIC, 1MDB and the Ministry of Finance in April 2017.

Then, 1MDB had disclosed that “these obligations will be met by 1MDB, primarily via monetization of 1MDB-owned investment fund units”.

Now with the payment in default, 1MDB said that it “is awaiting funds that were due to be received in July. Due to the need for additional regulatory approvals, the receipt of those funds has been delayed to August.”

The Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak repeated the same when questioned in Parliament by the Opposition Leader, Dato’ Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, claiming that the delay in payment is merely a “technical issue” without elaborating any further.

All of the above responses are cryptic and opaque as no one after reading or listening to the above responses have any clue as to why exactly is there apparent difficulty in processing the above transactions, or what regulatory approvals are involved, in making the above payment to IPIC.

The reason for the opacity and secrecy is simple. There is no Bank in the world today who is willing to process the ‘sale’ of the 1MDB-owned investment fund ‘units’. This is because the United States Department of Justice have stated that these ‘units’ were fraudulent. They were created to cover-up the more than US$1 billion which were misappropriated by 1MDB to Good Star Limited when the intent was to have invested with Petrosaudi International Limited.

In fact, the Singapore Courts also confirmed that the financial analyst from NRA Capital in Singapore was bribed to produce the false valuation report on these investment ‘units’.

Any Bank, Malaysian or international which facilitates the transaction involving the sale of these fraudulent investment ‘units’ by 1MDB to whoever or whichever party would hence be guilty of facilitating money laundering.

BSI Bank, the Singapore branch of the 132-year-old Swiss private bank which was the ‘custodian bank’ for the above 1MDB investment had already been punished. It’s merchant banking licence was terminated by Singapore and subsequently, the Switzerland’s financial regulator, FINMA has demanded that the Bank be dissolved.

No bank worth its salt would want to experience and endure the same fate as BSI Bank or many other Banks which have been fined and punished as a result of their entanglement with 1MDB.

The only way for 1MDB to repay IPIC would be a direct payment by the Government of Malaysia to IPIC. However, if that were to happen, it would be a direct admission by the Government that 1MDB is carrying the fraudulent investment and billions of dollars have been lost and stolen from the company, which requires a further mega-bailout from the country’s coffers.

Therefore, the decision by the Speaker to deny the Member of Parliament for Segambut’s motion to debate the default by 1MDB is a clear decision to save Dato’ Seri Najib Razak the embarrassment of having the truth revealed in Parliament or worse, incriminating the Prime Minister in the largest ever financial scandal to be inflicted on Malaysia.

We call upon Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to explain himself and tell the full truth to the millions of Malaysians who are gravely concerned with the RM50 billion 1MDB scandal. If there is ‘nothing to hide’ and what we have stated above is in anyway without basis as the BN leaders often claim, then come to Parliament, answer questions and debate openly.