28 January 2018
There has been a dramatic development in the on-going row between Venezuela and PetroSaudi over the off-shore oil contract that was funded by the 1MDB investment in the Saudi-owned company.
Late last week, the country’s top prosecutor issued criminal proceedings and applied for an international arrest warrant for the former powerful Petroleum Minister, Rafael Ramirez, for the “crimes of intentional embezzlement, money laundering and association”, specifically referring to the so-called “ghost ship” contract with PetroSaudi.
“Ramírez you have to answer to justice for this case, for the case of factor K, and the scrap ship Saturn belonging to the ghost company Petrosaudi,” The chief prosecutor Tarek William Saab is reported as having demanded.
According to the prosecutors the money lost through PetroSaudi was part of US$11 billion stolen from the state oil company PDVSA, of which Ramirez was also head, during his tenure. Prosecutors say this was down to corruption, however Ramirez, who has fled the country and is believed to be hiding in the United States, is putting the matter down to his political rivalry with the current President Maduro.
Venezuela has put out a request to Interpol and is believed to be waiting on their response. Meanwhile, the court filings of the US Dept of Justice made clear last year that none of the profits accrued by PetroSaudi from this unequal deal were returned to 1MDB, which had put in the original investment as part of an alleged joint venture and then series of loan arrangements to the company.
Likewise it has emerged that the two dud drill ships owned by PetroSaudi were the sole assets on which 1MDB’s alleged $2.3 billion Cayman Island investment portfolio was based, thanks to criminal over-valuations procured on behalf of the Malaysian fund by Najib’s advisor Jho Low and a ring of collaborators based at BSI Bank (now closed following investigations into the scandal in Switzerland and Singapore).
With a court battle now underway the full details of the once secretive dealings between PetroSaudi and Ramirez’s team at PDVSA are likely to be laid bare in open court, which should provide even more details for Malaysians about where all their money went.
After all, Prime Minister Najib Razak continues to maintain there was “no wrong-doing”, 1MDB still claims it cashed out from the deal with a $2.3 billion sale of its interest and PetroSaudi has claimed that documents used by Sarawak Report to expose the thefts of hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB were ‘doctored’ and forged.
28 January 2018
As more and more tumbles out all over the place about how the rats occupying the lower rungs of UMNO have been raiding public funds, a till now barely reported issue has just slipped out in the Australian media.
Today, whilst detailing how the ex-chairman of the fund for the rural poor MARA has been exposed for stealing millions of dollars from his own fund (what’s new?), the Sydney Morning Herald has revealed that his boss Najib is also implicated in a major corruption case that has been made subject to a “suppression order” by a local Australian court.
According to the Herald article today:
Given the rampant corruption associated with Najib Razak, Malaysians have every right to demand to know what is going on and why the Australian court has seen fit to cover up a corruption case involving their prime minister?
The context for this revelation has been the unravelling story of corrupt property purchases involving Malaysian government funds, which have been the hallmark of Najib’s period of government and in itself an appalling scandal.
Suddenly, in an apparent policy switch by the Malaysian Government after Najib took power, vast chunks of money from the country’s savings funds have been diverted into foreign property ‘investments’ at hugely inflated prices. Every time, in a totally indefensible manner, these ‘investments’ have been conducted through shadowy intermediaries off-shore, making the transactions utterly opaque and enabling the ultimate beneficiaries to be disguised.
There is currently a growing global campaign to ban the off-shore finance industry altogether, given that its primary purpose is to facilitate crime by hiding the details of transactions and the ownership of companies and accounts, whose holders either ought not to be rich or want to avoid tax – usually both.
There is certainly no excuse whatsoever for any form of government transaction involving public money to use off-shore instruments of this kind.
The Malaysian property transactions encouraged by the Najib administration provide ample proof why the practice should be banned, with the MARA story in Australia just one example.
Today’s Herald report details how information gained from the so-called Paradise Papers reveals how millions of dollars were filtched from the purchase of the MARA building in Melbourne and ended up in the MARA chairman’s account.
Firstly, officials working for the head of MARA organised for the building to be deliberately over-valued by a local estate agent in KL. The owner of the Swanston Street building had it on the market for $21.5 million, whereas the MARA officials got the KL estate agent to price it to themselves at $41.8 million:
says the Sydney Morning Herald. Mohammad Lan Allani was the Chairman of MARA. What the Paradise Papers have revealed is that the missing money was chanelled into off-shore companies owned at least in part by Allani.
Who else benefitted from these missing millions belonging to the Malaysian people is yet to emerge. However, Malaysians are free to guess and they know that this particular property transaction is just one of numerous similar inflated foreign buy-ups using public money funnelled through secret off-shore companies.
Malaysians also know that corruption is a phenomenon that begins and ends at the very top. Which is the reason why instead of charging all these flunkeys Prime Minister cum Finance Minister Najib Razak has been doing his best to say that all is in order and nothing is wrong and allowing investigations to drift on year after year before being closed down.
It is therefore of the utmost urgency that the Australian courts address this strange and unusual use of a suppression order to hide a corruption case that allegedly involves this Prime Minister, whose lengthy reputation preceeds him.
The Proof Is In The Pudding
Meanwhile, it is worth bearing in mind that Malaysians are currently being barraged with claims that former Prime Minister Mahathir, currently leading the opposition in its fight to win the election and release the imprisoned opposition leader in waiting, was ‘as bad as Najib himself’.
Yet, when Mahathir left office, funds set up for the benefit of rural and retired Malaysians still contained billions of dollars worth of savings, whereas from the moment Najib took office those funds have been raided and rapidly depleted by deliberate thefts of this nature.
There are powerful lobbyists with political connections who are supporting Najib in both Britain and Australia, thanks to all this dirty money. However, the people of Malaysia derserve to know the truth from the Australian authorities.