Friday, April 28, 2017

Perfect opportunity for Auditor-General and PAC to re-look into 1MDB scandal: review 1MDB-IPIC settlement which had Malaysians bearing US$7.01 bil. to resolve 1MDB’s US$3.5 bil. bond borrowing

Yesterday, the Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani desperately tried to backtrack from his original assertion which tried to shift the blame for the 1MDB-IPIC “settlement” to the Prime Minister.

The glorified ‘settlement’ had in effect shifted the burden on repaying 1MDB’s US$3.5 billion bond to the Ministry of Finance, despite repeated assertions by 1MDB and Dato’ Seri Johari himself that 1MDB has already paid IPIC US$3.51 billion in the past.  This meant that Malaysians have to bear a whopping US$7.01 billion to resolve 1MDB’s US$3.5 billion bond borrowing before even taking into consideration the annual interest payments of approximately US$200 million!

“I don't report to him. I never contradicted the Prime Minister. Don't try to split me and the prime minister with this matter," the Second Finance Minister told Malaysiakini.

However, I never accused him of “contradicting” the Prime Minister.  I merely repeated what he had said earlier, which was “the Prime Minister has made the decision for the country. That’s it,” and that the matter is now “beyond [him]”.  His own statement clearly showed that while he had all along said that the dispute between 1MDB and IPIC should go to arbitration and that he was “very confident” of the Malaysian parties winning the case, he had to wash his hands off the matter as the matter has been decided by the Prime Minister.

I had then said that if the US$3.5 billion or RM15 billion matter is “beyond [him]” as a Finance Minister, then he might as well resign from his office.

However, Dato’ Seri Johari shot back, asking "Who is Pua to ask me to resign?”  “I don't report to him. I never contradicted the prime minister. Don't try to split me and the Prime Minister with this matter," he added.

Dato’ Seri Johari appears to have forgotten, while he reports to the Prime Minister in the Cabinet, he is there to serve the interest of Malaysians and not that of the Prime Minister.  If the decision of the Prime Minister is clearly detrimental to the interest of Malaysians, as the settlement showed, then it is certainly the duty of a Finance Minister to make things right.

However, the Second Finance Minister is clearly more interested in blindly supporting Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, by brushing off my allegation that Najib was conflicted in making the decision with regard to the settlement.

I call upon Dato’ Seri Johari to access his conscience and determine facts of the matter, something which is fully within the powers of a Finance Minister. Of the US$3.51 billion which 1MDB had purportedly paid to IPIC, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has received US$30 million in in personal bank account in while his stepson, Riza Aziz received US$238 million via his company, Red Granite.

The above facts which were outlined in United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) suit to seize US$1 billion of laundered assets by funds originating from 1MDB has never been disputed by Dato’ Seri Najib Razak himself, and if indeed true, the clearly puts the Prime Minister in a position of conflict when deciding on the settlement terms with IPIC.

If the Second Finance Minister is genuine in his desire to “serve the nation” as professed in his March open letter to me, then I ask him to join me in calling for the Auditor-General (AG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to re-look into the 1MDB scandal in the light of the latest developments.

It should be noted that the PAC was told by 1MDB and its CEO, Arul Kanda that all payments which have been made to IPIC would be used to offset the US$3.5 billion 1MDB bonds which were guaranteed by IPIC.  The PAC also never made the recommendation for the Ministry of Finance to take over the liability for the bonds from IPIC – that would be just ridiculous.

Hence, it is crucial for both the AG and the PAC to re-visit the 1MDB scandal in the light of new evidence, including but not limited to the “settlement” agreement with IPIC as well as the new information contained in the US DOJ suit to seize the US$1 billion worth of laundered assets with funds originating from 1MDB.

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