Monday, August 22, 2016

The Police’s ring-fenced investigations into 1MDB points to scapegoating former Director and CEO Datuk Shahrol Halmi for the multi-billion dollar scandal

The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar disclosed on Friday that the police have completed the first phase of their investigation into 1MDB, which is restricted to the five recommendations by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) as ordered by the cabinet.

As pointed by DAP Parliamentary Leader, the “five recommendations” by the PAC has nothing to do with police investigations as they relate to corporate reorganisation of the heavily indebted company.  For example, the PAC recommended that the 1MDB Board of Advisors be dissolved, that the Ministry of Finance assumes ownership of the property assets under the company and that 1MDB “should avoid excessive debt”.

The only request by the PAC in its report, which was not part of the five recommendations, was for 1MDB’s former Director and Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Shahrol Halmi and others who were involved to be investigated by the authorities.

This leads Malaysians to believe that the ring-fence imposed by the Cabinet and willingly accepted by the IGP, is nothing more than a strategy to place the entire blame for the multi-billion dollar scam on the shoulders of Datuk Shahrol Halmi.

It clearly appears that Datuk Shahrol will be made a scapegoat to ease the pressure on the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who has failed to take any concrete action at all against any party for the losses suffered in what the UK Guardian named as the “world’s largest financial scandal”.

The powers that be would certainly hope that with Datuk Shahrol’s incarceration, a mere pawn in the wider scheme of things, they would be able to wash their hands off the scandal and close the lid on the ugliest chapter of Malaysia’s history.

However, by doing so, the Police would once again make complete fools of themselves, no different from the Altantuya murder scandal in 2006.  Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri, and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar who were members of the elite Unit Tindakan Khas assigned to the office of the then Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Najib Razak, were found guilty of murdering the Mongolian woman.  However, no motive was ever presented by the police and the prosecution, or found by the Malaysian Courts when they were condemned to death sentences.

In 1MDB’s case, if only Datuk Shahrol were to be charged and found guilty, the similar question could be asked – what motive is there for Datuk Shahrol to carry out the multi-billion dollar global embezzlement exercise?

Datuk Shahrol, who was referred to as “1MDB Officer 2” in the US Department of Justice suit to seize US$1 billion of laundered 1MDB assets, was never disclosed as an individual beneficiary of the stolen funds.

The beneficiaries of the loot were Low Taek Jho, Riza Aziz, Khadem Al-Qubaisi and Mohammad Badawy Al-Husseiny.  In addition, a “Malaysian Official 1” who could only refer to Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, received a whopping US$731 million from the embezzled proceeds.

I have no doubt that Datuk Shahrol is guilty of participating and facilitating in the massive scam to defraud ordinary Malaysians and should be charged for abetting the heinous crime.  However, he is but a cog in the wheel of the 1MDB scandal.  It will be the greatest travesty of justice, similar to the Altantuya murder, where the real conspirators and crooks who had benefited immensely from the crimes are let of scot free.

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