1MDB financial scandal – the global noose is closing in while at home the Ministers are in sixes and sevens trying to defend the indefensible

Three international developments today are harbingers of the global noose of the 1MDB scandal that is closing in, viz:

  • The withdrawal of the BSI Bank’s status as a merchant bank in the city state by the Monetary Authority of Singapore for "serious breaches of anti-money laundering requirements, poor management oversight of the bank's operations and gross misconduct by some of the bank's staff" and the reference of six members of the BSI Bank’s senior management and staff to the public prosecutor – after investigations into the 1MDB scandal in Singapore.
  • Commencement of criminal proceedings by Switzerland's Office of the Attorney General (OAG) against BSI SA Bank for allegedly failing to prevent offences linked to 1MDB, including offences of money laundering and bribery of foreign public officials. Swiss authorities believe at least RM4 billion in Malaysian state fund had been misappropriated as part of their investigations into 1MDB scandal.
  • Resignation with immediate effect of Swiss Bank BSI's Group CEO Stefano Coduri following the announcement by the Money Authority of Singapore on the closure of its Singapore branch and criminal proceedings by the Swiss OAG in connection with their 1MDB investigations.

At home in Malaysia, however, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Ministers and minions are in sixes and sevens, indulging in sophistry, prevarication, obfuscation and downright evasion instead of being true and frank about the RM50-55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion global financial scandals.

The UMNO cyber warfare chief and Deputy Finance Minister, Ahmad Maslan, is one such example.

Today, he tried to dismiss the speech by the Special Affairs Department (Jasa) director, Datuk Puad Zarkashi to Malay students in his “Veracity Tour” in Canberra that Najib had told UMNO leaders when the Wall Street Journal reported the expose in early July last year that he had Bank Negara documents to approve the transfer the money (RM2.6 billion) into his personal accounts and that he had discussed it with the Bank Negara governor as “old story”.

Ahmad told the press: "This was a long time ago. Why do we want to revive old stories?" Ahmad asked when questioned on this at the Parliament lobby today.

Ahmad cannot be more wrong. What Puad told Malay students in Canberra is not an “old story” but a “new story”, for nobody, not even Najib, had told the story related by Puad before!

Where did Puad get this “new story”? Did he concoct it and would Najib come forward to endorse it, or would the Prime Minister keep his silence because he does not want to expose his underlings when they are telling “tall stories” to brainwash ordinary UMNO members or Malay students overseas?

I agree that with Puad’s “new story”, silence is no more an option for the former Bank Negara Governor, Tan Sri Zeti Akthar Aziz and she must come forward to declare whether she had indeed given approval to Najib to transfer the RM2.6 billion into his personal bank accounts and been complicit in the “donation” scandal.

I am surprised by the low standard of sophistry, prevarication, obfuscation and downright evasion employed by some of the Ministers in the current meeting of Parliament.

For instance, a written reply yesterday to the DAP MP for PJ Utara, Tony Pua by the Finance Minister implied that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was not involved in the transfer of US$3.5 billion from 1MDB to a British Virgin Island entity it believed was a subsidiary of International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) but which IPIC has now declared had no links whatsoever with IPIC or its subsidiary Abu Dhabi-unit Aabar Investments PJS.

Article 117 of the 1MDB Memorandum and Articles of Association (M & A) requires all major decisions of the company involving financial commitment (including investment) and restructuring to have the written authorization from the Prime Minister.

Is the Finance Ministry’s answer the truth, which means that the 1MDB had violated Article 117 of its M&A, raising the question whether the payment of US$3.5 billion by 1MDB to the British Virgin Island entity (which appeared to very disappeared into thin air) was properly made, or whether the parliamentary answer had not reflected the truth.

Why is the Najib government allowing Malaysia to suffer almost daily humiliation as the 1MDB global scandal is virtually the staple daily diet in international media for months, when Najib should come up to give a full, true and accurate account of the 1MDB scandal.

It is still not too late for Najib to make a clean breast of the 1MDB scandal and he should come to Parliament tomorrow or on Thursday to accept full accountability and responsibility for the 1MDB global scandal instead of allowing Malaysia’s international repute and standing to be subject to a thousand cuts by almost daily adverse publicity in the world media.

Will Najib agree to a two-day extension of the current Parliamentary meeting next week to debate the PAC Report on 1MDB as well as his Ministerial statement on the subject, which will allow MPs from both sides of the House to deal with the national and international development of the 1MDB scandal, including the criminal proceedings in Switzerland and the closure of BSI Bank in Singapore in connection with the 1MDB scandal?

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah