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Monday, December 30, 2013

Najib told: Come clean on your stepson

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak must explain his stepson's involvement in a production company and his purchase of a multi-million ringgit luxury condominium in New York.
PETALING JAYA: The onus is on Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to clarify and explain his stepson Riza Aziz’s involvement in a production company that bankrolled a RM300 million Hollywood movie, says PKR director of strategy, Rafizi Ramli.
“The Prime Minister has a duty to prove that his stepson’s source of funds is legitimate and does not have anything to do with public funds,” Rafizi told a press conference here, today.
He added this was especially so as it was questionable if anyone connected to a public official is seen to be living beyond their means.
“It becomes a matter of concern as it confirms how public officials live beyond their means when it is currently difficult for others (the rakyat), financially,” he said.
Riza, son of Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor from a previous marriage, owns Red Granite Pictures, a production company that bankrolled the RM300 million ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ movie starring Leonardo Di Caprio.
Riza founded the company in 2010 – coincidentally the year after Najib took office as premier – and has reportedly bankrolled a number of big named projects in Hollywood including ‘Friends With Kids’, ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ and the latest movie, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’.
Rafizi then called for the identities of the financiers backing Riza’s company to be revealed.
“We want to know who are the financiers in his company. Who are so generous as to give such huge amounts of money?
“If there is nothing to hide, then I do not think there’s anything wrong for him to disclose the financiers,” he said.
Rafizi said that Riza claimed he had backing from ‘unknown’ investors from Asia and the Middle East.
Sarawak Report, an on-line news portal, has described Riza as “a close associate” of the controversial and flamboyant financier Jho Low (Low Taek Jho), a Penang business graduate educated in the UK and US.
Jho Low was widely reported as the front man in a number of eyebrow-raising business deals linked to both Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud and Najib’s pet project, 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Commenting on Riza’s purchase of a multi-million ringgit luxury condominium unit in New York, Rafizi said it was simply illogical for Riza to purchase the condominium “unless his salary is a few millions”.
“As an investment banker, he would probably earn around RM150,000 per year. He has been working for about 12 years, so he would have saved around RM1 million.
“There is no way he could accumulate such an amount (RM110mill). Not even if he started saving since he was little, like his mother,” he said.
Riza bought the RM110 million luxury condominium unit at 63rd Street in Park Laurel, New York, on Nov 19, last year.
The unit was purchased under a limited-liability company named Park Laurel Acquisition.
Stop misleading the people
Touching on a seperate issue, Rafizi called for Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders to stop misleading the public with their statements regarding the goods and services tax (GST).
“Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan has adamantly insisted that the implementation of the GST will bring down the price of goods and services.
“But I know that he knows, with the implementation of the GST, prices will inevitably go up. He should stop misleading the public, since he knows that the prices will infact, go up,” he said.
Rafizi then said this probably stems from Ahmad’s simplistic belief that businesses can claim input tax.
However with the GST, inflation rates will rise and businesses will have no other choice but to raise prices, claimed Rafizi.
“Also, there is nothing in the law that compels them to reduce the price of things. The government will only rely on the goodwill of businesses to reduce the prices.
“It is however unfair to plead with them since it affects everyone. And when prices increase, the public will turn their anger on to the businesses when it is the BN government that implemented the GST.”

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