Thursday, April 27, 2017

Did Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani just blame the Prime Minister for sacrificing US$3.5 billion in 1MDB’s “settlement” with IPIC for “the bigger picture”?

In an exclusive response to Malaysiakini yesterday, Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani insisted that he has proof that Aabar Investment PJS Limited (“Aabar(BVI)”), an entity incorporated in the British Virgin Islands which 1MDB has already paid US$3.51 billion was a genuine subsidiary of International Petroleum Investment Corporation (IPIC) of Abu Dhabi.

"As far as I am concerned, based on records provided by 1MDB to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) prior to the settlement agreement, Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (BVI) is a subsidiary of IPIC.  A fact which was confirmed by the Registrar of Corporate Affairs of the British Virgin Islands by its letter dated Aug 11, 2016," he told Malaysiakini.

The question is, if the so-called “proof” is so incontrovertible, then it makes absolutely no sense to concede on a whopping US$3.5 billion or more than RM15 billion based on today’s exchange rates!

Instead of being all gung-ho in being able to win the IPIC-initiated arbitration, the Second Finance Minister said “the matter is beyond [him]” in a subsequent press conference yesterday.  He now made a complete U-turn claiming that the government decided to look after the “bigger picture”.

“At the end of the day, the government felt that they are looking at the bigger picture on this, in terms of the relationship between Malaysian and Abu Dhabi and so on… So I think that’s beyond me. I’m going for the facts, but this is a bigger thing.”

In fact, the Second Finance Minister shifted the blame to the Prime Minister. “The Prime Minister has made the decision for the country. That’s it,” he retorted.

But that’s exactly what Malaysians are worried about – that it’s the tainted Prime Minister who is making the decisions because he is conflicted!

Based on documents revealed by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ), which were corroborated by the evidence produced by the Singapore prosecution against its rogue bankers, from the funds transferred to Aabar(BVI), Dato’ Seri Najib Razak personally received a sum of US$30 million in his personal bank account in Ambank in 2012.

Worse, his stepson, Riza Aziz received US$238 million via his Red Granite group of companies.  Some US$100 million of the sum was used to produce the Hollywood movie, The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo Dicaprio.

In addition, isn’t Dato’ Seri Johari interested to find out if, despite the incontrovertible “proof” in his possession, that Aabar(BVI) had been fraudulently set up by the officers of IPIC – Khadem Al-Qubaishi and Mohamed Badawy Al-Husseiny, both of whom have been sacked by IPIC – in collusion with 1MDB officers to defraud both the Abu Dhabi and Malaysian governments?

Hence the question must be asked as to whether Dato’ Seri Najib Razak decided to ‘settle’ the IPIC dispute which resulted in US$3.5 billion of additional liability for Malaysians because it is really in the interest of the country or, to prevent IPIC from further exposing and confirming his complicity in the entire 1MDB misappropriation scandal.

Therefore, it is utterly irresponsible of Dato’ Seri Johari to wash his hands off the Ministry of Finance taking on the RM15 billion mega-liability.  Instead of acting ignorant, shouldn’t the Second Finance Minister satisfy himself that the Prime Minister has not made the decision out of self-interest? In reality, was the “bigger picture” a blatant attempt to save Najib and Barisan Nasional from losing in the next General Election?

If the matter is indeed “beyond” him as he pleads, then he might as well resign as the Second Finance Minister.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani must explain what happened to the US$3.51 billion he had previously insisted had already been paid to IPIC

Last August, Second Finance Minister Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani said he was very confident that 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) will win the arbitration in dispute with Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), given the documents provided by 1MDB to the minister.

"As far as I'm concerned, I am very confident that we will win (the case), based on the documents that I have, supplied by 1MDB to me," he told reporters after a 2017 Budget focus group meeting.

IPIC had claimed up to US$6.5 billion from 1MDB, including 2 bonds amounting to US$3.5 billion issued by the latter and guaranteed by the former.

Dato’ Seri Johari had insisted that 1MDB has already paid US$3.51 billion to IPIC or its purported subsidiary, Aabar Investment PJS Limited (“Aabar(BVI)”), a company registered in the British Virgin Islands.  IPIC on the other hand, has publicly refuted that Aabar(BVI) is not its subsidiary even though it carries the same name as its own subsidiary, Aabar Investment PJS, a company registered in Abu Dhabi.

1MDB claimed it has already paid Aabar(BVI) the amounts of
(i) US$1.367 billion as a “security deposit” for the US$3.5 billion of bonds in 2012

(ii) US$993 billion for the termination of options granted to IPIC or Aabar in November 2014; and

(iii) Additional sums of US$855 million and US$295 million as “top-up security deposit” in September and December 2014 respectively.

"It's too bad for them not to acknowledge that (Aabar BVI), because as far as the record is concerned, the company belongs to them (IPIC).  Now they suddenly say that the company does not belong to them. So we want to see them in court and let the arbitration look at our document," the Second Finance Minister had insisted then.

Even in his open letter to me as recently as last month, Dato’ Seri Johari declared that “as for the dispute regarding the US$3.5 billion, which was paid to the IPIC group of companies by 1MDB, IPIC cannot continually deny that they have received the monies when 1MDB has already paid the same to them. I don't think Malaysians in their right mind will want to just give up on that issue of the payment.”

So the question is, Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani must now explain why the Malaysian negotiators have “given up” their case against IPIC in their “settlement” announced 2 days ago.

Under the terms of the settlement, despite 1MDB having purportedly paid the US$3.51 billion above to IPIC or its subsidiary, the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MoF, Inc) has agreed to assume all liabilities arising from the US$3.5 billion of bonds which were previously guaranteed by IPIC.

Given that 1MDB is clearly in no position to pay the debts, Malaysian taxpayers will now have to fork out another US$3.5 billion to bailout 1MDB as part of the above settlement.  This means that we will ultimately pay a whopping total of US$7.01 billion, or more than double the US$3.5 billion of bond borrowings by 1MDB!

What has happened to Dato’ Seri Johari’s gung-ho statement that “we must fight and win this case”?  Why did we capitulate to IPIC’s demands before the fight even began?  Is it because 1MDB has finally conceded that Aabar(BVI) was clearly a fraudulent company to begin with and the US$3.51 billion originally paid has been clearly misappropriated and lost?

More interestingly, just two days before the settlement was announced, he suddenly washes his hands and said he wasn’t “involved in the negotiations. It (is) being done by (the) management and board of 1MDB with PMO’s (Prime Minister’s Office) officers.”

The Second Finance Minister had heroically claimed in his open letter to me that “it would be wholly irresponsible for [him] to shirk off this responsibility and opportunity to serve the nation.”  So may I ask, is agreeing to pay US$7.01 billion for a US$3.5 billion loan the “responsible” thing to do in “serving the nation”?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

1MDB “Settlement” with IPIC an affirmation by 1MDB that they have lost US$3.51 billion purportedly paid to IPIC and its subsidiary, Aabar Investment PJS

1MDB and IPIC have finally announced the conclusion of the much awaited “settlement” to the London arbitration proceedings filed by IPIC against 1MDB.

What is most interesting, who the winner and loser are, can be clearly deduced by their respective statements.

1MDB’s statement was short and sweet, providing scant details other than the fact that “1MDB will, amongst others, make certain payments to IPIC and will assume responsibility for all future interest and principal payments for two bonds issued by 1MDB Group companies due in 2022”.  No figures are stated.

IPIC on the other hand made a detailed announcement to the London Stock Exchange clearly stating that
(i) IPIC will receive US$1.205 billion in 2 equal tranches on 31 July 2017 and 31 December 2017.

(ii) 1MDB and MoF Inc., will assume all responsibility of future interest and principal payments of US$3.5 billion worth of bonds, previously guaranteed by IPIC.

The implication between the 2 statements is staggering.

1MDB tried to paint a rosy picture of the settlement – that the dispute has been resolved with no hard details.  On the other hand, IPIC’s clearly showed that they got exactly what they wanted, the return of US$1.205 billion worth of cash advances to 1MDB since June 2015 and to discharge itself entirely as a guarantor for 1MDB’s US$3.5 billion worth of bonds.

However, of greater significance is the fact that 1MDB’s concession to the above settlement terms is a direct affirmation and confirmation that 1MDB have lost US$3.51 billion worth of payments which have purportedly been paid to IPIC and its subsidiary, Aabar Investments PJS.

Last year, 1MDB and its CEO, Arul Kanda, have informed the Auditor-General (AG) and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the following payments were made to Aabar Investments PJS Limited, a separate company registered in the British Virgin Islands (“Aabar(BVI)”).  It has already been widely known, and confirmed by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) that Aabar (BVI) is a fraudulent impostor company.  However, 1MDB and Arul Kanda continued to insist that it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the IPIC group.

As outlined on Page 92 of the PAC Report on 1MDB, 1MDB claimed it has paid Aabar (BVI) the amounts of

(i) US$1.367 billion as a “security deposit” for the US$3.5 billion of bonds in 2012 

(ii) US$993 billion for the termination of options granted to IPIC or Aabar in November 2014; and

(iii) Additional sums of US$855 million and US$295 million as “top-up security deposit” in September and December 2014 respectively.

These sums, as emphasized in the PAC Report, could not be verified by the AG as 1MDB has refused to provide the relevant proof and documentation of the transactions, despite repeated requests over months.

The question then is, if we have indeed paid the above sums, totalling US$3.51 billion to IPIC or its subsidiaries, why then are we allowing IPIC to relieve itself an ultimate guarantor for the bonds and why is MOF Inc, assuming the US$3.5 billion of liability?

Is 1MDB and Arul Kanda telling us that despite having paid US$3.51 billion to IPIC, we still owe the US$3.5 billion we borrowed?  Putting it simply, are Malaysians to fork out a whopping US$7.01 billion to settle 1MDB’s US$3.5 billion of bonds?!

The only explanation for the incredulous situation is that the US$3.51 billion was never paid to IPIC as claimed.  Instead, the funds were misappropriated or laundered as documented widely in the US DOJ charges against Jho Low and company, and Singapore prosecution its local banking officers.

Therefore, we call upon the Prime Minister, who is also the Minister of Finance, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to come clean on the discrepancy resulting from the “settlement” with IPIC, since Malaysians have now to pay more than double what was actually borrowed by 1MDB.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

1MDB new auditor’s biggest challenge now is to audit and verify the purported sale of 1MDB’s Brazen Sky or its assets to a “undisclosed third party”

The Singapore Straits Times reported that 1MDB is expected to ink an agreement with Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) to settle a dispute involving billions of dollars very soon.

In its report, the Singapore daily cited sources as saying the agreement would see 1MDB pay IPIC US$1.2 billion by year end, to settle a loan and accumulated interest from a bailout the IPIC gave 1MDB in July 2015.

It said most of the money would come from the sale of "fund units" from 1MDB subsidiary Brazen Sky to an undisclosed buyer.  Brazen Sky is of particular interest to 1MDB watchers because its account in Singapore's BSI Bank was supposed to be the account used to receive funds from 1MDB's Cayman Islands account.

If the Singapore Straits Times report is to be believed, then 1MDB’s newly appointed auditor, Parker Randall will now be faced with their biggest test to date.  Parker Randall, represented locally by the Malaysian audit firm, “Afrizan Tarmili Khairul Azhar” (aftaas) must carry out the necessary due diligence and audit to ensure that the transactions taking place are bona fide and above board.

Of interest is the fact that until today, 1MDB has failed to provide any form of clarity of these “fund units” worth US$940 million purported redeemed from a Cayman Island investment fund.

1MDB has refused, despite repeated demands from the Public Accounts Committee and the Auditor-General to provide financial statements and documents of 1MDB’s overseas bank accounts and assets, including that of Brazen Sky Limited.

Worse, these assets were purportedly parked in BSI Bank, Singapore which have already had its merchant banking license withdrawn by Monetary Authority of Singapore.  When questioned in Parliament, the Minister of Finance responded that these units were not managed by any fund manager or investment bank, while also refusing to where the “units” have been moved to.

Hence it is critical for Parker Randall or aftaas to confirm the existence and authenticity of the US$940 million worth of “units”.  Most interestingly, despite the fluctuating value of investment assets over time, these fund units appeared to have a frozen value of US$940 million since its redemption in January 2015.

In addition, should Brazen Sky or its assets be sold, Parker Randall must verify that the sale and purchase transaction is a genuine transaction and not another case of paper shuffling which have taken place earlier in 1MDB’s US$1.8 billion investment in Petrosaudi.

It is also important for Parker Randall to confirm and satisfy itself on the identity of the mysterious “undisclosed buyer” of these mysterious Brazen Sky assets as part of its audit verification. The auditors must also trace the money trail of the fund transfers from the mysterious undisclosed buyer into 1MDB before being transferred to IPIC.

The audit is all the more important given the spotlight 1MDB has, which has caused some half a dozen of banks around the world to be shutdown or penalised for facilitating money laundering transactions.

Surely, after Deloitte Malaysia disgracefully resigned from 1MDB for failing to detect any of the above illicit and money laundering activities, Parker Randall do not want to follow the same footsteps and sully its international reputation.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

I stand by the video comments I have made which have purportedly defamed the honourable Prime Minister

I have received a letter of demand from the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak, served by his lawyers from Hafarizam Wan & Aisha Mubarak who brought along TV3 to my office in Petaling Jaya yesterday evening.

The letter demanded that I retract the statement, remove the video, publicly apologise to the Prime Minister and pay an amount of compensation to be agreed upon within 7 days.

I have reviewed the 5-minute video published on 6 April 2017 and I hereby state that I will standby the comments I have made.  Hence I will neither retract the statement, remove the video, publicly apologise to the Prime Minister nor offer to pay any amount of compensation to Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.

This is simply because the statements which I have made are grounded on established facts which have not been disputed.

The Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal first made the allegation that US$681 million originating from 1MDB, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Finance found its way into Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank account with Ambank Malaysia.  This was subsequently confirmed in evidential documents produced by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ).  In fact, the US DOJ pointed out in their legal filings that the total amount originating from 1MDB and surfaced in the Prime Minister’s bank account was US$731 million.

It should be noted that Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has never publicly disputed or denied the facts presented by the US DOJ since July 2016.

In addition, the US DOJ has labelled Malaysia as a kleptocracy.  The Dictionary.com definition of “kleptocracy” is “a government or state in which those in power exploit national resources and steal; rule by a thief or thieves”.

Despite the reputational damage inflicted on Malaysia as a result of US DOJ’s suit to seize assets worth approximately US$1 billion acquired with laundered funds originating from 1MDB, the Prime Minister and his Government has refused respond to the highly detrimental allegations.

In fact, the Prime Minister has steadfastly refused to clarify and respond to the matter in Parliament, despite repeated request by Members of Parliament to do so.

What’s more, I have also outlined all the facts and evidence of the above misconduct and more, in my civil suit against the Prime Minister for public misfeasance filed in January this year.  Dato’ Seri Najib Razak doesn’t even have to sue me a second time, he just needs to answer to the charges I have made in my suit to debunk any “fake news” which have purportedly damaged his reputation.  Instead, he has chosen to try to strike out my suit with a mind-boggling defense that he “is not a public officer” and hence cannot be subjected to a public misfeasance suit.

Hence, I can only interpret the Prime Minister’s latest letter of demand, the second I have received from him, is an attempt not to right a wrong, but to silence the truth.

Just as I never stopped exposing, highlighting and questioning the RM50 billion ringgit 1MDB scandal despite being sued for defamation the first time round in March 2015, I will not be intimidated or frightened from continuing to do the same.

It is my fervent believe that not only my voters who voted me into office, but an overwhelming majority of Malaysians cannot accept a kleptocratic administration or a Prime Minister who stole billions from the rakyat.  Therefore, I will doggedly persist and persevere in fighting the democratic cause to free Malaysia from such evils and disease.

Monday, April 10, 2017

There is no need for Senior State Executive Councillor, Teng Chang Khim to resign as to err is only human, and the errors upon discovery are rectified

The DAP Selangor State Committee met in an emergency meeting this afternoon to discuss the public concerns over the guidelines and planning restrictions over non-Muslim places of worship.

The DAP Selangor State Committee unanimously agreed that the recommendation that non-Muslim places of worship should not be built within 50m of a home owned by Muslims, as well as several other guidelines are not appropriate for a multi-racial, multi-religious society which encourages mutual respect and tolerance.

It should be noted that such guidelines are the status quo for other BN-led states like Johor and Negeri Sembilan.  

The State Committee heard the explanation provided by Selangor Vice-Chairman and Senior State Executive Councillor, Teng Chang Khim, that despite having requested state government officials to make the necessary changes, the changes were not incorporated into the final version of the guidelines. 

As reported during his press conference in the morning, Teng has apologised for the unintended error and even offered to resign from his position.

The State Committee found that the question of Teng resigning from his government office does not even arise as he has committed no crime.  He has neither stolen money from the state government coffers, nor abused his powers to benefit vested interest parties like developers.

Instead, DAP Selangor would like to commend Teng for stepping forward to take full responsibility over the unintended error and omission, despite the fact that the guidelines manual was approved by the Selangor State Planning Committee.

To err is certainly human, but what is most important is the fact that immediate steps are being taken to ensure that these errors are corrected upon discovery.  No one has yet suffered or been penalised by the guidelines for new non-Muslims places of worship.  

Hence, DAP Selangor state committee supports Teng’s decision to seek the State Executive Council’s (Exco) approval on Wednesday for immediate suspension of the guidelines implementation pending revision.

At the same time, in the light of the gravity and sensitivity of the matter, the Selangor State Committee also resolved to set up a special sub-committee to assist Teng.  This will ensure that no stones are left unturned in the revision process.  The sub-committee will be led by Vice-Chairperson, Hannah Yeoh and four other members, Rajiv Rishyakaran, Dr Abdul Aziz Bari, Yeo Bee Yin and Ng Sze Han.

DAP Selangor would like to reiterate that the constitutional provisions providing for Islam as the religion of the Federation and guaranteeing the freedom of religion would be defended at all cost.  We firmly believe that such provisions can only be achieved with tolerance, respect and acceptance of such freedoms by all Malaysians.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz must prove that Malaysia is not a Police State

After great expectations were set for the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz debate on 1MDB, for the second time, the Police stepped in to stop the debate by refusing to grant a “permit”.

The original intent was for the debate to be held in a townhall in the Tourism Minister’s own constituency, Padang Rengas.  The Police put a stop to that, forcing a change in venue to the premises of Karangkraf Media Group, the publisher for local daily, Sinar Harian in Shah Alam.

Despite an earlier approval by the Selangor police with conditions which were accepted by the organisers, the Police has now rescinded the approval.

Apparently, “the Shah Alam district police headquarters had received objections from residents in the surrounding area”.  Hence, “after studying and considering the matter based on public order, the peaceful assembly permit reference 4/17 dated March 31 is cancelled,” the Police said.

The denial of a permit for a political debate or dialogue is ridiculous at so many levels.

For one, Karangkraf is located at an industrial area, a good distance from the nearest residential zones.

Secondly, it is the role of the Police to facilitate and ensure that the dialogue or debate takes place in a peaceful manner by providing the necessary support and security.  The constitutionally-guaranteed rights to freedom of assembly and speech should not be denied by those who are threatening those very freedoms.

However, most importantly, it is not at all within the powers of the Police to deny approval for the event to take place.  Based on the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012, all the organisers are required to do under the law is to give a 10-day “notice”.  The Act does not provide for the police to say yay or nay to an assembly, what more an indoor function at private premises.  A police permit is no longer required.

The clear cut abuse of power by the Police in this case shows without a doubt, the fear by the Najib administration for the debate on 1MDB to take place. The debate will only serve to confirm in the minds of Malaysians – the fact that billions of ringgit of 1MDB funds surfaced in the personal bank accounts of the Prime Minister.

It would have been a debate so lopsided that even Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz, arguably one of the sharpest debaters on the frontbench, could not possibly win.  However, with the Tourism Minister demonstrating unbounded bravado, the Police was called to step in to stop the debate to save Dato’ Seri Najib Razak the blushes.

Dato’ Seri Nazri has previously told reporters that “Malaysia is not a Police State”, after the original debate was denied by the Police, hence the subsequent alternative arrangement was made.

Hence, we call upon the Senior UMNO Minister to prove that Malaysia is indeed “not a Police State” by insisting and proceeding with the debate with Tun Dr Mahathir, regardless of the ruling made by the Police.

The Minister’s failure to do so will not only confirm, by his own benchmark, that Malaysia has indeed degenerated into a Police State. It will also confirm that he is not a man of his words and has conveniently found a face-saving way out of proceeding with the much anticipated debate.