The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has completed its probe into the financial affairs of Prime Minister Najib Razak and passed 37 charges to the attorney general for prosecution, according to an explosive report by the London-based Sarawak Report. The Commission’s lead investigator in the case was earlier murdered.
The news blog, edited and written by Clare Rewcastle Brown, said that Najib is trying to negotiate his departure from office with full immunity and as much as RM4 billion (US$907.3 million) in stolen loot after the charges were widely circulated among top United Malays National Organization cadres. Two sources in Kuala Lumpur independently confirmed the story to Asia Sentinel, although a third said it had been around for some time and that there has been no movement, suggesting it might be at least part wishful thinking. Others with connections to the top of UMNO say they don’t think Najib is going anywhere anytime soon.
However, Sarawak Report said, “Behind a facade of UMNO unity and relentless PR about the ‘crisis being over,’stealthy talks were carried out at the highest levels in a series of locations over the New Year holiday break.”
Veteran UMNO politician Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah is said to be brokering the negotiations because Najib trusts him to swing immunity for him, Asia Sentinel was told separately.
“Appearances are being maintained,” an insider told SR, “there have been the usual lavish events and appearances and of course Rosmah [Najib’s wife] is still determined not to let go, but there have been negotiations in Tokyo and Dubai. Najib knows the game is up, but he does not appreciate the reality of his situation. He is a dead duck and yet he is trying to negotiate a safe exit along with a guarantee of all the stolen money! The others will not agree.”
Another problem is that former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad wants Najib and his wife in prison. For another, three murders have revolved around cases involving Najib. The first is the killing by two of his bodyguards of the Mongolian translator and party girl Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006. Altantuya was at the heart of a 114.96 million euro scandal connected with the purchase of French submarines when Najib was defense minister. The second involved the 2013 murder of Hussain Ahmad Najadi, the founder of AMBank, the home of Najib’s accounts, who according to Najadi’s son was complaining about financial misdoings on the part of both Najib and UMNO. The third was the macabre murder of Anthony Kevin Morais, the lead prosecutor for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s case against Najib. There will be considerable public outrage if Najib and Rosmah are allowed to go without punishment,
Rotten at the core
The charges are at the heart of the notorious 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund affair, in which billions of US dollars have disappeared into accounts held by Taek Jho Low, the youthful financier who helped Najib – 1MDB’s chief economic advisor – set up the fund in 2009. They also revolve around a mysterious US$681 million payment into Najib’s personal account at AMBank in 2013 and its subsequent withdrawal.
Whether Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali acts on the charges remains to be seen. He is an UMNO loyalist who was appointed to the job after Najib fired his predecessor, Abdul Gani Patail, last year for bringing forward charges based on the theft of millions from Malaysia’s pension fund Kumpulan Wang Persaraan or KWAP into Najib’s personal account.
“Apandi is aware that this evidence has now been widely distributed and is known to all the top brass in UMNO, making a protracted cover-up extremely hard to achieve,” Rewcastle Brown wrote.
The charges are said to have been prepared by Morais, whose body was put into a cement-filled oil drum in November and dumped into a river after his car was forced off the road and he was kidnapped. Attorney General’s office officials denied Morais had any role in the investigation. However, Morais, widely believed to be the original leaker to the Sarawak Report and other publications, put much of the information on a USB drive and sent it to his brother in Atlanta, Georgia and other trusted confidants.
Apandi and Special Branch, the intelligence unit of the police – whose deputy chief was fired last year at the same time Ghani Patail was cashiered — have been attempting to get the documents back, according to the story.
Morais, in an email to Sarawak Report, said “The police continue to be rather aggressive in trying to uncover the sources of the leaks. And not actually trying to nab the lunatic on top of the pyramid, running this country to the ground just so his arse is saved… and I’m not sure if we’ll be able to stop this lunacy.”
The information is said to include copies of the bank statements showing how RM42 million, which was passed into one of Najib Razak’s personal accounts from 1MDB, under the auspices of “Corporate and Social Responsibility” payments, was actually spent by the Prime Minister.
The Sarawak Report and the Wall Street Journal published details from the 1MDB investigation that showed the exact trail of the money: an original RM4 billion had been borrowed from the KWAP public pension fund by a subsidiary of 1MDB named SRC International Sdn Bhd. Between December 2014 and February 2015 a total of RM42 million was siphoned out of SRC through two intermediary companies controlled by 1MDB executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil (Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd) and Datuk Shamsul Anwar Sulaiman (Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd).
Shamsul has been arrested and interviewed by investigators. Nik Kamil has fled to Jakarta.
Najib has said that none of this public money was spent on personal things. However, those who have seen the relevant bank statements told Sarawak Report that there were several expensive shopping items recorded, many bought on foreign trips.
“Actually, the spending …was rather mundane,” Morais said in an email to Rewcastle Brown, “Credit card bills, shopping, suppliers to the last elections that had not gotten paid because BNM had frozen the accounts of other proxy companies, that sort of stuff.”