Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Malaysians are unable to confirm fraud in 1MDB precisely because Dato’ Seri Najib Razak is hampering investigations

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak claimed in his parliamentary reply as the Finance Minister to the Member of Parliament for Bagan, Lim Guan Eng, that it's still too early to conclude if fraud had occurred in the US$3.5 billion transaction between 1MDB and International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

This was despite the fact that by 1MDB’s own admission to the Auditor-General, it has paid as much as US$3.51 billion to an “Aabar Investment PJS Limited” incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) between May 2012 to January 2015.  IPIC has disclosed last month that the BVI-incorporated entity is completely unrelated to itself or its similarly named subsidiary, Aabar Investment PJS, incorporated in Abu Dhabi.

It is now public knowledge that the BVI-Aabar has been wound up in mid-2015 and no one knows where the US$3.51 billion paid by 1MDB has gone to.  IPIC has publicly denied that it received any of the funds and has called a default on the debt-asset swap agreement with 1MDB signed in May 2015.

Even 1MDB President, Arul Kanda conceded that “what we cannot discount is there could actually be fraud...a massive fraud...and maybe there was collaboration from our side”.

The shocking loss of US$3.51 billion of funds would have justified the mobilisation of all investigation resources to uncover the truth behind the missing funds.  However, all we got was a nonchalant response from the Finance Minister himself that “it’s still too early to conclude if fraud has occurred”.

The problem is 1MDB hasn’t even filed a police report for an investigation to take place to uncover Arul Kanda’s concern that there “could actually be fraud… a massive fraud” and even “collaboration” from 1MDB’s officers.

And worse, even where some form of investigation was taking place by the Auditor-General (AG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), 1MDB has failed to provide full cooperation.

For example, 1MDB refused, despite repeated request by the AG and the PAC over the period of nearly a year, to hand over its bank statements of its overseas accounts, and that of its overseas subsidiaries.

When I posed the question to the Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak only responded lamely in his Parliamentary reply that “all documents in 1MDB’s possession and/or those which were accessible and/or those which it was able to obtain has already been handed over to the National Audit Department”.

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak failed to address the question as to why 1MDB could not have the bank statements re-issued by the respective banks, if the original statements were no longer in the company’s possession.

Surely, the Finance Minister would know that missing bank statement could easily be re-printed within a few days at the most?

Hence not only did Dato’ Seri Najib Razak fail in his responsibility to ensure that the wholly-owned Ministry of Finance subsidiary comply fully with all the request by the AG and the PAC, the fact that he is now defending 1MDB with the lamest of excuses only goes to prove that the Prime Minister himself is covering up the single-largest fraud in Malaysia’s history.

By withholding crucial evidence to the investigating authorities, fraud then cannot be proven and Dato’ Seri Najib Razak can then continue to hold his head high, maintain a straight face and claim that “it is too early to conclude if fraud had occurred” in the US$3.51 billion payment to the bogus BVI-Aabar.

Malaysians cannot be blamed for asking why Dato’ Seri Najib Razak is trying to protect the criminals behind this heinous heist of the century.

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