Sunday, January 31, 2016

How did the A-G conclude that the US$681 million “donation” from the unnamed Arab didn’t originate from 1MDB?

Last week, the Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali said that based on evidence from witnesses and supporting documents submitted by the MACC, the sum of US$681 million deposited into the Prime Minister's personal accounts between March 22, 2013 and April 10, 2013 was a personal donation to Najib from the Saudi royal family which "was given to him without any consideration".

After the explosive statement by the Swiss Attorney-General on Friday which stated that they have found evidence of up to US$4 billion misappropriated by 1MDB, Tan Sri Apandi Ali was quick to dismiss the Swiss investigations as separate and distinct from the obscene sum of money deposited into Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts.

He said that “contrary to recent media reports, the investigations into donations that were made to the prime minister are entirely separate to those into 1MDB. The Attorney-General's Chambers exhaustively reviewed the report provided by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and, as has been announced, found no evidence of wrongdoing and hence have instructed for the cases to be closed.”

He further accused media organisations who linked the two scandals as “irresponsible and prejudicial”.

The question that we need to ask Tan Sri Apandi Ali is how is he so sure that, even if the funds deposited into the Prime Minister’s personal bank accounts came from the mysterious Arab donor, the money did not originate from 1MDB?

MACC’s deputy director of operations Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull has publicly stated that the RM2.6 billion probe was still incomplete as investigators needed to collect documents and statements from individuals from several overseas financial institutions. Shukri said the commission filed a request with the A-G to obtain mutual legal assistance (MLA).

However, Tan Sri Apandi has already concluded that there was “no necessity” for Malaysia to make a request for an MLA to any foreign states to complete the investigation by the MACC in relation to the donation.

Thus, it is crystal clear that Tan Sri Apandi has yet to verify the exact source of funds for the so-called “donation”. Therefore, he cannot conclusively dismiss the possibility that part of the US$4 billion of misappropriated funds by 1MDB did not find its way to Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s accounts.

The link between 1MDB and Dato’ Seri Najib Razak must be thoroughly investigated because of the circumstantial evidence surrounding the transactions. The sum of US$681 million was deposited into the Prime Minister’s bank account within 5 days after 1MDB successfully raised US$3 billion in bonds in March 2013. We also know that the money was transferred by “Tanore Finance Corp Limited”, a company set up in the British Virgin Islands via Falcon Private Bank. The small Swiss Bank is in turn owned by the International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) of Abu Dhabi.

IPIC and its subsidiary, Aabar Investments PJS, have in turn entered into various financial and joint venture agreements with 1MDB and SRC International Sdn Bhd involving billions of dollars.

No investigation over the source of funds of Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s multi-billion ringgit donations can be complete without investigating the overseas money trails of 1MDB, IPIC, Aabar, Tanore Finance and Falcon Bank.

We are extremely concerned with The Wall Street Journal report that the Swiss Office of Attorney-General (OAG) has lamented the lack of cooperation from their Malaysian counterparts over their investigations.

Therefore, we call on the Attorney-General to not only declare that he will give the fullest and most urgent cooperation to the Swiss authorities, but that he will also grant MACC’s request for MLA from foreign regulatory authorities immediately.

Given the global scale of the scandal and the “systematic course of action carried out by means of complex financial structures” with regards to 1MDB’s US$4 billion “misappropriation” as disclosed by the Swiss OAG, the failure of Tan Sri Apandi to uphold the transparency and integrity of his office will only cast a deeper shadow on the reputation and credibility of Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.

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