‘Grand larceny in 1MDB’
COMMENT The might of the most powerful nation in the world has been brought to bear to investigate, uncover and institute legal proceedings to forfeit assets purchased through money stolen from proceeds of bonds sales by 1MDB.
The combined efforts of three US agencies, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), with the assistance of law enforcement agencies in other countries, have produced the most complete, holistic picture of the great fraud perpetrated by Jho Low and his co-conspirators to defraud the people of Malaysia of billions of ringgit ultimately belonging to them.
The 136-page, 513-paragraph ‘Verified Complaint for Forfeiture in Rem’ is a tour de force. The people of Malaysia, suffering under a state of powerlessness and helplessness, owe an immeasurable debt to the sterling work carried out by truly independent institutions in the United States.
As a long-time critic of US domestic and foreign policies, I pay tribute to their selfless work in exposing the greatest robbery in modern times; what is the Great Train Robbery of the 1960s compared to 1MDB!
The fact that the US initiative is brought by its newly established ‘Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative’ is significant. Thus their complaint asserts that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is a kleptocrat, a term that was only coined in the late 1990s to describe African dictators like Joseph Mobutu, Sani Abacha and Robert Mugabe plundering their own countries.
More than US$3.5 billion in funds belonging to 1MDB were stolen, and the US complaint seeks the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion in assets purchased from that stolen money. It represents the largest single action ever brought by the Kleptocracy Initiative.
The serious allegations against Najib, his stepson, Riza Aziz and Jho Low for their corrupt dealings have shamed our nation. Through their action, Malaysia has joined the ranks of the most corrupt nations in the globe.
One could not have a more succinct description of the corrupt practices engaged by these persons than what the Complaint states in Paragraph 6:-
“6. 1MDB was ostensibly created to pursue investment and development projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia and its people, primarily relying on the issuance of various debt securities to fund these projects.
However, over the course of an approximately four-year period, between approximately 2009 and at least 2013, multiple individuals, including public officials and their associates, conspired to fraudulently divert billions of dollars from 1MDB though various means, including by defrauding foreign banks and by sending foreign wire communications in furtherance of the scheme, and thereafter, to launder the proceeds of that criminal conduct, including in and through U.S. financial institutions. The funds diverted from 1MDB were used for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their relatives and associated, including to purchase luxury real estate in the United States, pay gambling expenses at Las Vegas casinos, acquire more than US$200 million in artwork, invest in a major New York real estate development project, and fund the production of major Hollywood films. 1MDB maintained no interest in these assets and saw no returns on these investments.”
A close reading of the comprehensive document will indicate that the draftsmen had access to thousands of incriminating materials, hardly surprising considering the reach of the FBI and IRS when the US dollar and their banking system are used for nefarious purposes. Further, the paper trail would have been immensely damning.
From their advanced state of knowledge, as demonstrated by the exhaustive nature of the civil complaint, it is only a small step for the FBI and Department of Justice (DOJ) to next take, that is, to institute criminal proceedings against the persons referred to in the complaint. Such criminal proceedings cannot come soon enough for all right thinking persons.
The US government complaint completely vindicates the brave reporting of Clare Rewcastle-Brown and the Sarawak Report, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, the Edge led by its intrepid editor Ho Kay Tat and P Gunasegaram in KiniBiz. So too the public statements of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tony Pua, Lim Kit Siang and Ambiga Sreenevasan.
They have been unfairly demonised by the Malaysian Establishment, for speaking the truth and an apology is due to them. And Malaysia owes a great debt to Clare Rewcastle-Brown for her single-minded investigative journalism of the very highest standard.
Because the complaint is in effect a history of the fraudulent dealings undertaken by 1MDB, under the control of Najib and Jho Low from the time of its birth, it should be read carefully. No summary can do justice to its detailed narration: the primary document must be reviewed.
I propose to focus on the role played by Najib and the corrupt practice of his step-son, Riza. But before I do so, mention must be made of the Verification by Robert B Heuchling, Special Agent, FBI which appears at the last page of the complaint. He has signed the complaint, thereby confirming the veracity of its contents under the penalty of perjury, and goes on to state that he has had access to files, records and information supplied to him by law enforcement officers.
This signifies personal responsibility on the part of Heuchling, establishing that he is satisfied with the truth of the matters complained of. Thus, it would be foolhardy for anyone to simply dismiss the complaint as a political document by a foreign agency wishing to undermine the Najib administration.
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