MP SPEAKS Last week, Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani told an audience of the investment community at a luncheon organised by the Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd (MIDF) that the government “can’t press charges on 1MDB without a full picture”.
Johari argued that "even the PAC (public accounts committee) and auditor-general were unable to specifically tell what went wrong”.
Johari must prove to Malaysians that he has not become a big liar in defending a kleptocratic administration by demanding that the cabinet declassifies the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB immediately.
How can the second finance minister expect Malaysians to believe his claim that the auditor-general could not find anything specifically wrong with 1MDB when the Najib Abdul Razak administration has classified the Auditor-General’s Report under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) after it was published in February 2016?
Even the then-auditor-general, Ambrin Buang, has emphasised that the intent of the OSA classification was only for the purpose of the PAC to complete its own report without unnecessary leaks.
Ambrin stated clearly that there was no need for the Auditor-General’s Report to be classified after the PAC Report has been completed and left it to the discretion of the government to declassify the document.
Can Johari tell us why the Auditor-General’s Report remains classified?
Make it difficult for the BN?
Is it because even the ‘sanitised’ PAC Report itself has hinted at a whole lot of shenanigans discovered by the auditor-general which, if further exposed, would make life difficult for the Barisan Nasional government?
For example, the PAC found that the 1MDB’s multi-billion dollar investments in Petrosaudi and other funds were carried out without any proper study or due diligence. For that matter, the PAC and the auditor-general found that 1MDB decided to invest a total of US$1 billion in a joint venture with Petrosaudi International Ltd within just eight days.
Since then, we have also discovered, with corroborating evidence from Bank Negara, as well as from court cases in the United States and Singapore, that US$700 million of that sum was siphoned to Good Star Ltd, a company owned by the flamboyant Jho Low.
The PAC and the auditor-general also found that 1MDB’s management executed multiple multi-billion dollar transactions without the approval of the 1MDB board of directors.
The PAC and auditor-general also concluded that the top management had provided false information to the Board of Directors on multiple occasions. Worse, the top management was found to have acted in defiance of decisions made by the board of directors.
The reports of the PAC and auditor-general were very specific in these allegations.
It's true that the reports from the PAC and auditor-general were not sufficiently comprehensive.
The PAC and auditor-general could not investigate the US$731 million of funds originating from 1MDB that were deposited into the personal bank account of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak because 1MDB refused to supply its overseas banking documents.
However, there are already sufficient instances of criminal wrong-doings and negligence by the top management, as highlighted by both the auditor-general and the PAC in their reports.
This was also the reason why the PAC had recommended that the authorities carry out investigations against former 1MDB chief executive Shahrol Halmi and other management officers who were involved.
Hence the question that the Johari must answer as finance minister II is: why haven’t investigations into the shenanigans in 1MDB, especially by Shahrol Halmi, been completed after more than a year? And why is Shahrol still a director at the Pemandu agency in the Prime Minister’s Department?
Is it because he is ‘untouchable’ and protected by the prime minister himself, so as to avoid even more damning truths surfacing on how tens of billions of ringgit were misappropriated by 1MDB, from which a substantial portion was channelled to Najib?
TONY PUA is the MP for Petaling Jaya Utara and DAP national publicity secretary.- Mkini