Mr. Prime Minister, don’t give us the slip on your RM2.6 billion scandal
By Kim Quek
Prime Minister Najib Rajak is obviously trying to get himself and his party off the hook by claiming that the scope of work of the special task force is confined to ascertaining whether the RM2.6 billion funds found in his accounts were used for his personal interest. The inference is that if the finding is negative, then the case is closed, full stop.
How marvellous for Najib, if only the case is so simple!
Let me quote what Najib said:
“The investigation of the special task force is to determine whether the Wall Street Journal allegation that I took 1MDB funds for my personal interest has basis or not”.
This statement contains two errors: WSJ never said the funds came from 1MDB; neither did it say the money was used for Najib’s personal interests. In fact, WSJ in its article dated July 2 (US time) stated the exact opposite. I quote:
“The original source of the money is unclear and the government investigation doesn’t detail what happened to the money that went into Mr. Najib’s personal accounts.”
So, by completely distorting what WSJ said, is Najib trying to pave the way for the special task force to close the case?
CRIMINAL IMPLICATION OF NAJIB’S RM2.6 BILLION
What is undisputed at this stage is the existence of the said RM2.6 billion that had gone into Najib’s accounts, because Najib has persistently failed to categorically deny the allegation which was made with specific details. The veracity of the claim is given further credence when WSJ uploaded on July 7 the banking documents detailing these deposits into Najib’s accounts, for which Najib has again failed to deny.
So, this part of the work (establishing the RM2.6 billion deposits in Najib’s account) has already been done, since the documents upon which WSJ based its article had actually come from Malaysian investigators according to WSJ, and hence there is no need for the special task force to do much more work on the issue.
What the task force has to do now is to trace the ultimate source of these funds and to ascertain how these funds have been spent.
RM2,600 million is a gargantuan sum; it couldn’t possibly have come suddenly from a charitable well-wisher and just as quickly had disappeared. The criminal implication of the mysterious movements of such huge quantities of cash through the accounts of the Prime Minister is awesome, to say the least. And this is exactly where the special task force must dig in – to establish and unveil the whole truth to the public, for which the nation is now holding its breath.
In fact, not only the nation, but the whole world is watching now that this mega scandal has made headlines in leading media around the globe. The Malaysian government cannot afford to falter on the current investigation nor to fail to apply the necessary remedies, lest it will lose its credibility, with serious adverse consequences economically and politically.
Now, let us take a quick look at how and when these funds flowed into Najib’s accounts.
THE LINK TO 1MDB’S US$3 BILLION BOND
The RM2.6 billion came from two sources at two different times. The bulk of it, US$681 came from a foreign company in late March 2013, shortly before the 2013 general election. The second source was local, totalling RM42 million.
The source of US$681 million looks suspiciously linked to the US$3 billion bond raised by 1MDB, ostensibly for investment in a joint venture with IPIC of Abu Dhabi to develop the TRX project, which never really took off the ground.
It was on Mar 21 & 25 that US$681 arrived at one of Najib’s account at AmIslamic Bank in Kl from Tanore Finance (based in British Virginia Islands) from its account in the Singapore Branch of Falcon Private Bank, a Swiss bank owned by IPIC, with whom 1MDB had sealed a joint venture only days earlier, on Mar 12, 2013.
Coincidentally, two days before the payment to Najib’s account, on Mar 19, the US$3 billion was urgently raised, for which a whopping commission of 10% (US$300 million) was paid to Goldman Sachs due to the bond’s urgency.
Days later, on April 3,2013, parliament was dissolved.
Question is now asked, what is the urgency of the bond (raised only 7 days after sealing the joint venture) since the joint venture with IPIC never took off the ground, if such massive cash was not urgently needed to fund Umno/BN’s election campaign for the imminent GE13? An audit on 1MDB’s account for this period would provide the answer.
As for the local source of RM42million, it came from SRC International which conveyed the money via two other companies to Najib’s other two accounts in AmIslamic Bank in Dec 2014 and Feb 2015. SRC International, a company set up by 1MDB and later taken over by the Ministry of Finance, gained notoriety for having repeatedly failed to properly account for the RM4 billion loan it took from pension fund KWAP in 2011.
Why should a ministry of finance entity pay such a large sum of money to the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister’s personal bank account? Isn’t this act alone a breach of the law, whatever the subsequent usage of the fund might be?
INTEGRITY OF TASK FORCE IMPAIRED
What is worrisome now is the integrity of the current investigation carried out by the special task force made up of the police, MACC, Attorney General and Bank Negara. None of these have displayed independence in the past. In fact, they have persistently and consistently sided with the ruling elite whenever any of them is in trouble with the law. With the Prime Minister cum Finance Minister still over lording these institutions (since he has refused to go on leave), public confidence on the current investigation is near zero.
An example of such lack of independence is demonstrated in the failure of the task force to interrogate the chief suspect who is Najib himself despite the discovery of such improprieties during the official investigations on 1MDB which started months ago.
It is hence imperative that a truly independent royal commission of inquiry be set up forthwith to carry out the current task if public confidence both at home and abroad is to be restored. Members of this RCI must be persons who enjoy public confidence, and meet bi-partisan approval of parliament.
As such inquiry takes time, parliament must hold an emergency session to seek urgent and interim measure to meet the current unprecedented crisis, with both the Attorney General and Bank Negara Governor mandated to brief parliament, as called for the during the meeting of a hundred members of parliament and civil society leaders held in parliament house on July 7.
PEOPLE MUST RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
In the 58 year history of this country, we have never had a prime minister who has been so explicitly implicated in such grave breach of trust and breach of law as the current case, and unless we rise up as a people to meet this challenge resolutely, we would have maimed our image and credibility with disastrous consequences on our economy and political standing among nations.