More than RM1 billion [US$308 million at 2013 rates] of the US$681 million that supposedly was routed to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s AmBank account in Malaysia from mysterious Middle Eastern potentates — if they exist –was spirited back out to overseas accounts, presumably in Najib’s name, sources have told Asia Sentinel.
Nobody contacted by Asia Sentinel was able to speculate on where the money went overseas, although it is said to have been moved in September of 2013. However, Malaysian banking laws require that the movement of more than RM200,000 triggers notification to Bank Negara Malaysia, the country’s central bank. Top central banking officials presumably have information on all major transactions by the ill-starred 1Malaysia Development Bhd., which has been the focus of prolonged controversy over its massive debts. And while the contribution to Najib to AmBank reportedly was routed through another company, that transaction would certainly have triggered notification to the central bank.
There is more trouble for the Malaysian government on the international front, with Swiss regulators and prosecutors said to have reacted to a request by the Basel-based Bruno Manser Foundation NGO to open investigations into a series of transactions involving the funds including banks RBS Coutts in Zurich, the Geneva branch of JP Morgan (Suisse) and subsidiaries of Swiss banks BSI and Falcon Private Bank in Singapore.
The Attorney General of Switzerland office in Bern was quoted by the Swiss newspaper Le Temps that “We are touch with the authorities in Kuala Lumpur and the money laundering reporting office of Switzerland over this matter.”
Najib’s forces have been on a feverish hunt to find out who leaked the AmBank transaction although no details of its origin or ultimate destination after the account was closed have been made public. Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officials have been questioned by police, along with a wide range of other possible individuals as possible leaks and have been threatened by prosecution under the country’s Official Secrets Act.
In addition, other sources in Kuala Lumpur say, authorities are attempting to muzzle former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Najib’s fiercest critic, by threatening an investigation of Mahathir’s son Mokhzani for insider trading on a transaction involving the merger of his oil-and-gas equipment-fabricating company Kencana Petroleum.
“They are demonizing all and sundry who they think are a threat to or deemed to be a threat to Mohd Najib,” wrote A. Kadir Jasin, the former editor in chief of the New Straits Times and a close associate of Mahathir’s. “They don’t give a hoot if they destroy state institutions like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency (MACC), the Attorney General’s Chamber and Bank Negara. They have succeeded in discrediting, demoralizing and fracturing the AG’s Chamber, the MACC and the police. Now they are attacking Bank Negara.”
Unnamed forces are trying to drive Zeti Akhtar Aziz, the central bank governor, and four other top officials out of the bank over rumors she or other Bank Negara officers made details of the 1MDB transactions and those into Najib’s personal account available to the Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal.
A clutch of anonymous blogs, particularly “The Recounter” and “Fromtheeleventh” targeted Zeti especially, quoting the International Consortium of Journalists alleging that her family has numerous secret bank accounts in the British Virgin Islands and other areas with tight banking secrecy laws.