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Saturday, June 17, 2017

An exposé that reads like a Robert Ludlum thriller



The updated second asset seizure suit filed by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative contained even more outrageous exposés on how 1MDB funds have been allegedly misappropriated to those who are in power as well as their associates.
Besides hundreds of millions more in the acquisition of luxury properties around the world and prized art masterpieces, the DOJ is seizing The Equanimity, one of the most luxurious ships in the world costing more than US$250 million, allegedly belonging to Jho Low.
Even more scandalous was the over US$200 million spent on precious jewellery, including more than US$30 million for a rare pink diamond necklace allegedly for the wife of a Malaysian Official 1.
Besides some of the juiciest scandalous details befitting tabloid headlines around the world, the DOJ also took pains to elaborate how the funds exceeding US$5.6 billion have been allegedly laundered by 1MDB officials, Jho Low and his associates.
The previous DOJ suit in July last year has already outlined how US$1.83 billion invested with Petrosaudi International, US$1.367 billion paid to an allegedly fraudulent British Virgin Islands incorporated Aabar Investments and US$1.56 billion from 1MDB Global Investment Limited transferred to bogus investment funds, were allegedly laundered.
The updated suit published for the first time how an additional US$855 million borrowed from Deutsche Bank was raised and allegedly laundered in 2014 via another fraudulent Aabar Investments incorporated in Seychelles.
The exposé, which reads like a Robert Ludlum political thriller, detailed how 1MDB allegedly managed forged documents including audited financial statements, created multiple version of agreements for the very same transactions, lied to financial officers and authorities and outrageously pledged worthless securities as collateral to secure its US$975 million loan from the Deutsche Bank-led consortium.
Irwan Serigar Abdullah was appointed as chairperson of 1MDB last year to replace the disgraced board of directors who resigned en masse. He was not involved with any of the above shenanigans. He, who is also the treasurer-general - the most senior finance ministry official in the country - must take the bull by the horns and uncover all the skeletons in the closet.
The 1MDB management was quick to dismiss the DOJ allegations as “not backed by evidence”.  Surely, as a most experienced civil servant, Irwan Serigar would not take the management denials at face value, especially in the face of such detailed exposé of how the 1MDB funds were siphoned.
All it takes is for Irwan Serigar to call for an emergency 1MDB board meeting and demand for the relevant bank statements to be presented to discover if the DOJ was only exposing the truth or they have been misled by all the international banks in the world who cooperated with the investigations.

Will Irwan Serigar do the right and honourable thing for the sake of Malaysian taxpayers, whose money he has been entrusted to manage? Or will he succumb to the very reason why the previous chairperson and Board had to resign in disgrace - the failure to perform their fiduciary duties to keep a rogue management in check, to prevent fraud and abuse, especially to the scale of tens of billions of ringgit.

TONY PUA is DAP National Publicity Secretary and Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara.- Mkini

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