Was Banker’s Murder Connected to Malaysia’s 1MDB?
|Our Correspondent||Jul 10, 2015|
Pascal Najadi, the son of AmBank founder Hussain Ahmad, who was assassinated in a Kuala Lumpur car park in 2013, has charged that no real investigation of the crime has taken place. His lawyers, he said, are reserving the right to sue Malaysia in the International Court of Justice as a "failed state" unable to protect its citizens.
Hussain was gunned down on July 29, 2013. The Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Review reported last week that RM2.6 billion [US$680 million] had been deposited in AmBank accounts connected to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak in two tranches prior to the 2013 general election. Najib hasn’t denied outright that the accounts were his, but has said the money was not for his personal use, raising suspicions it was used to help the ruling Barisan Nasional fight the election.
Najadi has raised questions over whether his father’s refusal to play along with United Malays National Organization financial irregularities led to his death. On two occasions shortly before he was killed, Najadi said, Hussain complained about UMNO corruption. On the first, during a lunch at the Shangri-La Hotel, he told his son he had been approached by unnamed high-ranking UMNO officials to orchestrate a multi-billion ringgit property deal connected to the Kuala Lumpur City Center that Hussain characterized as clearly illegal and "told them to go fly a kite." On the second occasion, he told his son that Najib was "lining his pockets with billions of ringgit with no consideration for the future of the country."
The speculation is that the funds deposited with AmBank came from companies connected to the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd, which is backed by the Malaysian Ministry of Finance. 1MDB, as the investment fund is known, has RM42 billion in liabilities, an unknown amount of that unfunded, and is struggling to meet its payments. There are concerns that a default could threaten the entire Malaysian financial structure.
Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar on July 7 dismissed links between the assassination and the movement of funds into AmBank by 1MDB and said the case was closed. But, Najadi said, if there had been a real investigation, under Malaysia’s constitution it would have been ordered by the Attorney General, Abdul Gani Patail, and there was no evidence that Gani had done so.
“How can he can say this?” the Swiss-born Najadi said in a telephone interview. “This is not his decision to make. It is the duty of the attorney general to pursue this case. Such a decision must come from the attorney general before closing the file. This is a banana republic attempting to function as a real country. The IGP is nothing more than a talk show master trying to fool the public. Malaysia is not a serious country.”
There obviously has been an investigation. Authorities have identified a 55-year-old nightclub owner named Lim Yuen Soo as the mastermind behind the murder and alleged that Hussain Ahmad, who founded AmBank in 1972 but moved on to run AIAK Group, which offers consultation on cross-border mergers and acquisitions was killed in a property dispute that he was attempting to mediate. Officials said he had been trying to prevent Chinese temple land being acquired for development. A tow truck driver has been convicted of the shooting and is awaiting execution.
But, Najadi said, “How can the IGP say the case is closed, when Interpol has issued a red notice for Lim? Have his cell phone protocols been reviewed by the IGP under instruction of the AG to see if there is any link communication with [top UMNO figures]? Can the Attorney General really drop this case? Is it not for the well being of the general public, the taxpayers in Malaysia, to have the right of security and protection from wanted criminals?”
Lim Yun Soo is on the run. He left Malaysia for Australia shortly after the police began to connect him to the case. Malaysia has asked Interpol for help in finding him. Najadi said he has received reports from his own security apparatus that Lim had fled to Australia and then to China aboard regularly scheduled airliners. Najadi, now a Moscow-based international security consultant, asked how, with biometric passports today, Lim was able to pass through two sophisticated airports as a wanted man unless he had help. He said he has received reports, not verified, that Lim had returned to Malaysia under an assumed identity.
Blogs have circulated a timeline of Hussain Ahmad’s supposed activities at AmBank, formerly known as the Arab-Malaysian Development Bank, beginning on March 21, 2013 when the AmBank account under the name of CheatKor was said to have received a deposit of US$620 million, followed by a second deposit on March 25. According to the timeline, Hussein repeatedly reported the movement of significant amounts of money into and out of the account to Bank Negara, the country’s central bank, ending the day before his death when he allegedly went to file a police report.
But Najadi said he knew nothing of the timeline, or whether his father had reported the movement of money to Bank Negara. The timeline raises other questions about its authenticity, since Hussain had long since left the bank and remained only as an adviser.
“I have received many ‘friend requests’ from Malaysians, Muslims, Indians, Chinese, young, old, offering to help,” he said. “They feel powerless. They said, ‘You are our hero, this is a failed state. It is not a serious country.’”