Can Najib continue to pretend that there is no such thing as the 1MDB scandal after the 1MDB criminal indictments in the US court, with Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner pleading guilty to corruption and money-laundering charges

Can former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak continue to pretend that there is no such thing as the 1MDB scandal after the 1MDB criminal charges by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) against fugitive financier Jho Low, with former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner pleading guilty to 1MDB corruption and money-laundering charges?

Jho Low was charged in the federal court at the Eastern District of New York for conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB.

Low and former Goldman Sachs banker Ng Chong Hwa, also known as Roger Ng, were also charged with conspiring to violate Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to paying bribes to Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.

Another former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner had pleaded guilty to two charges of conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the FCPA by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials, and forfeited US$43.7 million as a result of the crimes.

My first thought at the news in the United States was what would have happened if UMNO/Barisan Nasional had won the 14th General Election and Najib had not been toppled as Prime Minister on May 9, 2018.

I am reminded of Najib’s reactions when the United States Department of Justice first filed the civil kleptocratic litigation in July 2016 which was later updated and expanded in June 2017.

With regard to the initial civil litigation in July 2016, Najib said “what was done by the DOJ recently does not involve me, or the Malaysian government, or 1MDB directly….This is not a criminal suit, but a civil suit… but it has been politicised by certain enemies”.

In actual fact, Najib was named as “MALAYSIAN OFFICAL 1”, described in the suit as “a high ranking official in the Malaysian government who also held a position of authority with 1MDB”, which a senior Cabinet Minister of Najib, Abdul Rahman Dahlan admitted to the whole world in a BBC interview the following month was none other than Najib.

When the DOJ kleptocratic litigation was enlarged in June 2017, the then Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali expressed frustration at not being informed by the DoJ of its latest civil lawsuits against 1MDB that appeared to be “a repeat of last year’s suit”.

He said that there was no evidence of misappropriation of 1MDB funds, nor have there been any criminal charges against anyone over the matter.

He said: “1MDB is a Malaysian company and has been the subject of multiple investigations within Malaysia, including by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, Auditor-General and the bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee.

“After review, we found that no crime was committed.”

He expressed “strong concerns at the insinuations that have been made against the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) of criminal wrongdoing” and said:

“At no point in the civil claims is the Prime Minister named as a defendant or has been alleged to have committed any criminal wrongdoing.”

What would Najib and Apandi say of the latest 1MDB court indictments and proceedings if they had continued as Prime Minister and Attorney-General respectively?

Fortunately, Malaysians had taken the first step to save Malaysia from continuing as a global kleptocracy on May 9, 2018, and the Attorney-General Tommy Thomas must be commended in ensuring that Malaysia was the first country to indict Jho Low in connection with the 1MDB scandal in August, with the United States as the second country to indict Jho Low.

Najib had been very vociferous lately. He cannot keep quiet now on the 1MDB developments in the US court. In fact, Najib had answered most unsatisfactorily about the DOJ proceedings in connection with his stepson, Riza Aziz during his disastrous Al Ajazeera interview.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri