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Monday, December 19, 2016

UK tightlipped on 1MDB, but diplomatic cable shows interest

Influential British newspaper The Guardian has made several attempts to access documents to determine if the UK is conducting a probe related to 1MDB with little success.
"The Guardian opened freedom of information requests into potential 1MDB investigations in the UK with the Home Office, Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Metropolitan Police, and the Serious Fraud Office during the past year.
"All have been rejected," said the newspaper in a report today.
However, the newspaper was able to access a related diplomatic cable by the British High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, albeit the document being extensively redacted.
What is left of the cable outlines some facts regarding Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali's decision to clear Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of graft surrounding the RM2.6 billion found in the latter's account.
"Najib has said he received US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) as a donation from the Saudi royal family and that this was to support Malaysia's practice of Islam and the fight against Daesh.
"But this week, the AG said the money was given 'without any consideration'," read the cable, dated Jan 29, with the author's name redacted.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office told the daily that the redactions were necessary as some of parts of the documents could "prejudice relations between the United Kingdom and other states" if it was disclosed.
"In this case, the release of some information within diptel [diplomatic telegram] reporting could harm our relations with Malaysia."
Is UK part of international probe?
A similar heavily redacted cable, dated Aug 13, was also obtained by The Guardian.
"On Aug 8, Najib announced that the MACC had exonerated him of corruption and the funds in his bank accounts were a donation from the Middle East and not from 1MDB.
"There has been no official MACC statement to this affect," read the cable.
The Guardian's article noted that although there are indications that a probe on 1MDB is underway in the UK, there has been no confirmation of this.
The UK is an important piece of the 1MDB puzzle as some British banks such as the Royal Bank of Scotland are tied to Swiss investigations on 1MDB funds.
London also hosts PetroSaudi International, 1MDB's former joint-venture partner. Digital documents leaked by a former PetroSaudi executive has been widely attributed as the source of money laundering allegations directed at 1MDB.

Thus far, several individuals linked to the transfer of 1MDB funds have been indicted or convicted in Singapore, while the Swiss authorities are looking at banking violations.
In the US, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed civil suits related to the alleged abuses of 1MDB funds.
Najib has denied abusing public funds for personal gain, and blamed such allegations on those conspiring to topple him from power.- Mkini

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