Who is the main beneficiary of the 1MDB scandal – Najib or Jho Low?

Yesterday, I asked about the real relationship between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Penang billionaire Jho Low, as to who was making use of whom in the 1MDB global scandal – Najib making use of Jho Low or Jho Low making use of Najib?

This is a question which is on the mind of every concerned Malaysian in the past two years, but despite the investigations by the various national enforcement and investigative agencies, including the high-powered Special Task Force on 1MDB (which was ignominously dissolved after the sacking of the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail who had chaired the Special Task Force and the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin), Police, Bank Negara, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Auditor-General and the Public Accounts Committee, Malaysians are no nearer to a truthful and satisfactory answer.

Will Parliament when it meets in October be able to get an answer from Najib, at least in his 2017 Budget speech?

Nobody however is optimistic that Najib would be prepared to furnish any answer and it would be easier to squeeze water from a stone.

The unprecedented 136-page US Department of Justice (DOJ) lawsuits to forfeit over US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets in the United States, United Kingdom and Switzerland seems to indicate the Jho Low was the “mastermind” of the 1MDB global financial scandal, as it would appear that Jho Low had a better bargain from the 1MDB scandal than Najib – which calls for a full explanation from Najib.

The US$1 billion assets which are the subject of the “civil action in rem” for forfeiture “represents a portion of over US$3.5 billion misappropriated from 1MDB” which “occurred in multiple phases over the course of several years” and were “involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”), a strategic investment and development company wholly-owned by the government of Malaysia”.

Paragraph 33 of the DOJ complaint said:

“The misappropriated funds were then used to purchase the Defendant Asset, as well as to fund the co-conspirators’ lavish lifestyles, including purchase of artwork and jewellery, the acquisition of luxury real estate, the payment of gambling expenses, and the hiring of musicians and celebrities to attend parties. The use of the diverted 1MDB funds for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their associates was not consistent with the purposes for which 1MDB raised the funds, and neither 1MDB nor the government of Malaysia realised any returns on these purchases and expenditures.”

From the three phases of 1) the Good Star Phase 2) the Aabar/BVI Phase and 3) the Tanore Phase, the DOJ had accused “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1” of embezzling US$731 million of Malaysian tax-payers’ money via 1MDB.

Against these items, DOJ enumerated the over US$1 billion from September 2009 to 2011 which were siphoned off from 1MDB to Good Star which belonged to Jho Low under the first “Good Star” phase; the second “Aabar/BVI phase” in 2012 where approximately US$1.367 billion in 1MDB funds raised in two separate bond offering were “misappropriated and fraudulently diverted” to bank accounts in Switzerland and Singapore controlled by Jho Low; and in the third “Tanore phase” in 2013 where more than US$1.26 billion in 1MDB funds raised in a third bond offering were “misappropriated and fraudulently diverted” to bank accounts in Switzerland and Singapore controlled by Jho Low.

With US$731 million going to “MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1”’s personal banking accounts, and even taking into consideration the US$238 million siphoned off to Red Granite Capital, an entity owned by Riza Shahriz, to purchase luxury real estate in the US and to fund his movie production company, Red Granite Pictures, more than two-thirds of the “misappropriated” US$3.5 billion 1MDB funds appeared to be at Jho Low’s disposal.

This raises the question as to who is the main beneficiary of the 1MDB scandal – Najib or Jho Low.

Until a satisfactory answer is forthcoming, this will continue to be a question uppermost in minds of all concerned Malaysians.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah