Malaysian Authorities Must Treat Grave US Department of Justice Allegations with Utmost Seriousness and Undertake an Immediate Inquiry – Malaysian Bar

Press Release

Malaysian Authorities Must Treat Grave US Department of Justice Allegations with Utmost Seriousness and Undertake an Immediate Inquiry

The Malaysian Bar is deeply disturbed by the grim disclosures contained in the complaint filed by the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”)[1] “to forfeit assets involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”)…”[2]  The DOJ has made serious allegations of siphoning or diversion of funds, fraud, and the misuse of the banking system for illegal activities, by the individuals and entities named in the complaint.

Various persons have in the past weeks sought to interpret the DOJ’s 136-page complaint.  It is appalling that some have deliberately set out to distort the proceedings, and have attempted to create confusion, ostensibly to protect­ wrongdoers.  In the interest of upholding the rule of law and the cause of justice, the thrust, purpose and ramifications of the DOJ proceedings must be appreciated.

The legal proceeding commenced by the DOJ seeking the forfeiture of assets — including rights to profits, moveable assets and real property — constitute a civil action.  These assets, located primarily, but not exclusively, in the United States, are alleged to be proceeds from criminal conduct.  The DOJ maintains that this is the largest single asset seizure action ever brought under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.[3]

The DOJ’s court document states that the assets to be forfeited represent “a portion of the proceeds of over [US]$3.5 billion misappropriated from 1MDB.”[4]  It has been reported that the United States authorities intend “to recover more than [US]$1 billion that was laundered through the United States and traceable to the conspiracy.”[5]  In this regard, it would appear from the court document that the United States authorities possess comprehensive knowledge of the movement of the alleged misappropriated funds, have sighted relevant documentary evidence, and even reviewed telephone conversations.  The substance, depth and reach of the allegations are compelling, and should not be ignored.  The affected parties will have the opportunity to challenge the DOJ’s action in court, hence the process is transparent and adheres to the principles of natural justice.  Read more

Malaysia’s Leader, Dogged by a Billion-Dollar Scandal, Proves Untouchable

Source: The New York Times

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia in 2013. Over the years, he has been accused of having ties to a murder, taking kickbacks and helping concoct a criminal prosecution against a political rival. Credit Lai Seng Sin/Associated Press

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The conspirators were confident. They planned to confront Malaysia’s prime minister, Najib Razak, at a cabinet meeting and demand his resignation. Prosecutors had collected evidence that Mr. Najib had deposited millions of dollars of public money into his personal bank account. Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail was ready to file criminal charges, according to Najib advisers and opposition leaders.

Mr. Najib had a reputation as a gentleman who was slow to act and never fired anyone. But when word of the plot reached him last July, he moved quickly. He dismissed both Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the man who would have taken his job, and the attorney general. And he blocked further inquiries into the allegations against him.

“They took it for granted that he was a sitting duck,” said Tony Pua, an opposition member of Parliament. “He turned the tables on them.”

Throughout Mr. Najib’s 40 years in public office, he has been easy to underestimate.

This month, the Justice Department filed a civil complaint in a money-laundering case outlining how Mr. Najib, identified as “Malaysian Official 1,” received $731 million from a government fund he oversaw. Investigators around the world are tracking the money trail to his bank accounts in what has become a billion-dollar scandal.

Protesters demanding the resignation of Mr. Najib in Kuala Lumpur, the capital, last August. Still, Mr. Najib faces no realistic challenge to his authority and is likely to win re-election in 2018. Credit Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters

Read more

1MDB: The inside story of the world’s biggest financial scandal

Source: The Guardian

On 22 June 2015, Xavier Justo, a 48-year-old retired Swiss banker, walked towards the front door of his brand new boutique hotel on Koh Samui, a tropical Thai island. He had spent the past three years building the luxurious white-stone complex of chalets and apartments overlooking the shimmering sea and was almost ready to open for business. All he needed was a licence.

Justo had arrived in Thailand four years earlier, having fled the drab world of finance in London. In 2011, he and his girlfriend Laura toured the country on a motorbike and, two years later, they got married on a secluded beach. The couple eventually settled down in Koh Samui, a tourist hotspot, just an hour’s flight south of Bangkok. After trying out a couple of entrepreneurial ventures, Justo eventually decided that he would go into the hotel business. He bought a plot with an imposing house and began building: adding a gym, villas and a tennis court.

That June afternoon, he was expecting a visit from the tourism authorities to sign off on the paperwork. Instead, a squad of armed Thai police burst through the unlocked door, bundling Justo to the ground. The officers tied their plastic cuffs so tightly around Justo’s wrists that he bled on the dark tiled floor. The police quickly moved into his office, ripping out the computers and emptying the filing cabinets.

After two days in a ramshackle local jail, Justo was flown to Bangkok and paraded before the media, in a press conference befitting a mafia kingpin. Still wearing shorts and flip-flops, he was flanked by four commandos holding machine guns, while a quartet of senior Royal Thai Police officers briefed the assembled reporters on the charges against him.

Justo was charged with an attempt to blackmail his former employer, a little-known London-based oil-services company named PetroSaudi. But behind this seemingly mundane charge lay a much bigger story.

Six months earlier, Justo had handed a British journalist named Clare Rewcastle Brown thousands of documents, including 227,000 emails, from the servers of his former employer, PetroSaudi, which appeared to shed light on the alleged theft of hundreds of millions of dollars from a state-owned Malaysian investment fund known as 1MDB.

The documents that Justo leaked have set off a chain reaction of investigations in at least half a dozen countries, and led to what Loretta Lynch, the US attorney general, described last week as “the largest kleptocracy case” in US history. Read more

Najib gets new powers amid planned protests over fund scandal

Source: Reuters

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak speaks at the opening of a conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, January 25, 2016. REUTERS/OLIVIA HARRIS/FILE PHOTO

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak will get sweeping security powers on Monday amid planned protests calling for his resignation over U.S. allegations that millions of dollars from a state fund wound up in his personal bank account.

The new National Security Council (NSC) Act, which comes into force on Aug. 1, allows Najib to designate any area as a “security area”, where he can deploy forces to search any individual, vehicle or premise without a warrant. It also allows investigators to dispense with formal inquests into killings by the police or armed forces in those areas.

Najib’s ruling coalition promoted the law as a means to counter threats to security in predominantly Muslim Malaysia, which has long dealt with a fringe element of radical Islamists.

But critics say the law’s expansive powers threaten human rights and democracy in the middle-income emerging nation, and could now be used to silence critics of the One Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund scandal.

“The concern among the civil society and others is because the NSC can be used against anything that the government is unhappy with,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, chief executive of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs, adding that it could extend to public rallies.

“It does give the PM a huge amount of power to declare emergency zones…,” he said. Read more

What is the US action about? — Gurdial Singh Nijar

Source: The Sun Daily

(Deputy President, HAKAM)

The civil lawsuits present a potentially thorny issue for the two countries that have grown closer during the administration of President Barack Obama.

The civil lawsuit under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative announced by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch on 20 July 2016, was initiated to seize the assets acquired by using money stolen from the people of Malaysia, in particular the 1MDB Fund. Image taken from FMT News.

MANY questions are being asked about the latest bombshell announced by the US attorney general and the FBI. They have initiated action to seize the assets acquired by using money stolen from the people of Malaysia, in particular the 1MDB Fund.

The AG has filed a “civil suit” for this purpose. And named five individuals – two Malaysians and three foreigners. Others – code-named – have also been indirectly implicated.

What is this suit about? Why civil and not criminal? What gives the US the right to bring this action? And can they haul up people who are not US citizens or living in the US?

As a result of worldwide clamour, the US launched a 2010 initiative to recover the proceeds of corruption (and money laundering) that are either held in the United States or moved through the United States. It is known as the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. (“Kleptocracy” is a Greek word meaning “The rule of thieves”). The assets to be recovered could be money in banks or property bought with the stolen money.

According to the initiative, these assets can be seized after a criminal conviction. The easier pathway, however, is to move to confiscate the assets without waiting for a conviction. Read more

Ambiga slammed for asking Cabinet to resign over US action

Source: The Star Online

SEMENYIH: The MCA Youth has lambasted Malaysian Human Rights Society (Hakam) president Datuk S. Ambiga for asking the entire Cabinet to resign over the US Department of Justice (DOJ)’s forfeiture lawsuits allegedly linking 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Its chief Chong Sin Woon said Ambiga should instead ask Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to resign first as he was charged with alleged corruption.

“Please do not practise double standards. The suit is not even targeting the Prime Minister, and asking the entire Cabinet to resign is really illogical,” he told reporters after attending a programme at the Nirvana Memorial Garden here on Sunday.

He was commenting on Ambiga’s call for the Cabinet to resign over the forfeiture suits.  Read more

Ambiga: Entire cabinet must resign over 1MDB, not just Najib

Source: Malaysiakini

All members of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s cabinet must resign as they are equally at fault for Malaysia’s woes, said National Human Rights Society (Hakam) president Ambiga Sreenevasan.

“It is not just Najib that is guilty of what is going on in Malaysia, it is the entire cabinet.

“All those ministers who are saying nothing, it is a sin of omission,” she said at NGO Aliran’s fundraising dinner last night. Read more

Justice Dept. Rejects Account of How Malaysia’s Leader Acquired Millions

Source: New York Times

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. A spokesman said he had not changed his position that the hundreds of millions in his personal accounts came from an unidentified Saudi donor, not a government investment fund that he oversaw. Credit Mohd Rasfan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

BANGKOK — A United States Justice Department complaint filed in federal court this week directly contradicts repeated assertions by the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, about the origins and purpose of hundreds of millions of dollars that ended up in his personal bank accounts.

While Mr. Najib and other Malaysian officials have insisted that the money was a gift from an unidentified Saudi donor, the Justice Department said that it was stolen from a Malaysian government investment fund that Mr. Najib oversaw. Mr. Najib has said he never received any money from the fund.

The court filing, one of several complaints filed Wednesday in a federal money-laundering investigation, provides the first official public documentation of transactions that challenge Mr. Najib’s version of events in a scandal that has battered his government for the past year.

The revelations could undermine his credibility and give new ammunition to a movement to force him from office. However, he maintains firm control over his governing party and has successfully stifled opposition with the firing of critics from party posts, the closing of online news outlets and the criminal prosecution of social media detractors and political opponents.

Mr. Najib, who has acknowledged receiving the money but said he broke no laws and took nothing for personal gain, told reporters on Thursday that his government would “fully cooperate” with the Justice Department action. Read more

White House calls for transparency in wake of scandal

Source: FMT News | Reuters

The civil lawsuits present a potentially thorny issue for the two countries that have grown closer during the administration of President Barack Obama.

The civil lawsuits present a potentially thorny issue for the two countries that have grown closer during the administration of President Barack Obama.

WASHINGTON: The White House urged Malaysia on Thursday to demonstrate good governance and a transparent business climate, a day after US prosecutors sued to try and seize $1 billion in assets they said were bought with money stolen from a state development fund.

The civil lawsuits present a potentially thorny issue for the two countries that have grown closer during the administration of President Barack Obama, who has visited the southeast Asian nation twice in the last two years.

The lawsuits will likely affect relations, but they did not come as a surprise, said a US congressional aide. “It has been a concern of a lot of people for a long time. Corruption in Malaysia is a huge problem,” the aide said.

No criminal charges have been filed in the scandal surrounding Malaysia’s 1MDB sovereign wealth fund, which was overseen by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Read more

Siapa pun ‘Malaysian Official 1’, kerajaan Malaysia mesti bertanggungjawab – Dr Aziz Bari

Sumber: Roketkini

KUALA LUMPUR, 22 JULAI: Pakar perlembagaan Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, berkata kerajaan tidak perlu berdolak-dalik terhadap pendedahan Jabatan Kehakiman Amerika Syarikat, sebaliknya mesti bertanggungjawab kerana 1MDB adalah syarikat kerajaan Malaysia.Ini katanya termasuklah melalui campur tangan Yang di-Pertuan Agong.Tindakan kerajaan yang disifatkannya sebagai cubaan ‘mengawal kerosakan’ itu bagaimanapun tidak menjadikan kerajaan dilihat bersih sebaliknya seolah-olah mengesahkan segala pendedahan yang dibuat pelbagai pihak termasuk parti-parti pembangkang, portal Sarawak Report dan blog-blog politik sebelum ini.

“Siapapun Malaysian Official 1 itu, 1MDB tetap milik kerajaan Malaysia. Kerajaan kena bertanggungjawab, kena jawab, dan yang akhirnya pada saya, Yang Di Pertuan Agong kena ambil tindakan. Jangan beri amaran lagi, perlu desak Najib buat tindakan yang sepatutnya,” tegasnya ketika dihubungi Roketkini. Read more