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Monday, 20 March 2017

Sarawak Report : Malaysian Minister "Does Not Have Full Picture On 1MDB"?



20 March 2017


The 2nd Finance Minister, Johari Abdul Ghani, who last week stated that the Government would not take on 1MDB’s debts, is already struggling to sustain that fiction.
In a long-winded answer to a parliamentary question from DAP Finance Spokesman, Tony Pua, he subsequently admitted the ministry has assumed all 1MDB’s land assets, along with related major borrowings, raised supposedly to pay for these.  This alone adds up to a total burden of RM3.2 billion, calculates Pua.
Separately, of course, Sarawak Report has exposed the secret East Coast Rail contract with China, which has inflated the cost of the project to double the genuine amount, specifically in order to conceal the repayment of RM30 billion of 1MDB debt and a bail out of two Jho Low companies, all on the taxpayer.
Yet, despite these embarrassments, Johari is continuing to battle on for his boss the Prime Minister, claiming there is not enough evidence of malfeasance at 1MDB to undertake a prosecution of any kind or even to continue with criminal investigations.
He said, Wednesday, that the Government doesn’t have “a full picture” on the situation. However, Pua has made clear that the only possible reason for this state of affairs is that ministers are deliberately keeping their eyes shut and suppressing the evidence.
Crusading on the evidence over 1MDB - Tony Pua
Crusading on the evidence over 1MDB – Tony Pua
Part of that evidence, as Pua points out, comes from the numerous global investigations that have already resulted in trials and convictions elsewhere.
The rest has been dug up by Malaysian investigations, which include the Auditor General’s own report and that of the Public Accounts Committee. However, the former has been made an official secret and the latter has been ignored.
Specifically, the recommendation by the PAC that the former CEO of 1MDB be immediately investigated was accepted six months ago by the Government and yet no action whatsoever has been taken.
Likewise, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s investigation has of course been shut down, despite appeals by the heads of that agency to proceed towards prosecutions.
Read Pua’s latest press release in full:
Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani must prove that the Auditor-General (AG)couldn’t find specifically what went wrong with 1MDB by seeking de-classification of the AG’s Report on 1MDB
 
Last week, the Second Finance Minister Dato’ seri Johari Abdul Ghani told an audience of the investment community at a luncheon organised by the Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd (MIDF) that the Government “can’t press charges on 1MDB without a full picture”. 
 
He argued that “even the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) and AG (auditor-general) were unable to specifically tell what went wrong”.
 
Dato’ Seri Johari must prove to Malaysians that he has not become a big liar defending a kleptocratic administration by demanding that the Cabinet declassify the Auditor-General’s Report immediately.
 
How can the Second Finance Minister expect Malaysians to believe him that the AG could not anything specifically wrong with 1MDB when the Najib administration has classified the AG’s Report under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) since its publication in February 2016?
 
Even the then Auditor-General, Tan Sri Ambrin Buang has emphasised that the intent of the OSA classification was only for the purpose of the PAC to complete its own report without unnecessary leaks.  He has stated clearly that there was no need for the AG’s Report to be classified after the PAC Report has been completed and left it to the discretion of the Government to declassify the document.
 
Can Dato’ Seri Johari tell us why the the AG’s Report remains classified?
 
Is it because even the ‘sanitised’ PAC Report itself has hinted at a whole lot of shenanigans discovered by the AG, if further exposed, would make life difficult for the Barisan Nasional Government?
 
For example, the PAC found that the 1MDB’s multi-billion dollar investments in Petrosaudi and other funds were carried out without any proper study or due diligence.  For that matter, the PAC and the AG found that 1MDB decided to invest a total of US$1 billion in a joint venture with Petrosaudi International Limited within just 8 days.  
 
We have also since discovered with corroborating evidence from Bank Negara as well as court cases in the United States and Singapore, that US$700 million of that sum was siphoned to Good Star Limited, a company owned by the flamboyant Jho Low.
 
The PAC and the AG also found that 1MDB’s management executed multiple multi-billion dollar transactions without the approval of the 1MDB Board of Directors.  The PAC and AG also concluded that the top management had provided false information to the Board of Directors on multiple occassions.  Worse, the top management was found to have acted in defiance of decisions made by the Board of Directors.
 
The PAC and AG’s Reports were very specific in these allegations.
 
It true that the PAC and AG’s report were not sufficiently comprehensive. The PAC and AG could not investigate the US$731 million of funds originating from 1MDB which were deposited into the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank account because 1MDB refused to supply its overseas banking documents.
 
However, there are already sufficient instances of criminal wrong-doings and negligence by the top management highlighted by both the AG and the PAC in their reports.  This was also the reason why the PAC had recommended that the authorities carry out investigations against Datuk Shahrol Halmi and other management officers who were involved.
 
Hence the question that the Second Finance Minister must answer is – why haven’t investigations into the shenanigans in 1MDB, especially by Datuk Shahrol Halmi been completed after more than a year?  Why is Datuk Shahrol still a Director at the PEMANDU agency in the Prime Minister’s Department?
 
Is it because he is ‘untouchable’ and protected by the Prime Minister himself, so as to avoid even more damning truths surfacing on how tens of billions of ringgit were misappropriated by 1MDB, of which a substantial portion of it was channelled to Dato’ Seri Najib Razak?