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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Aussie graft case suppression order covers Malaysian PMs


An Australian court has purportedly banned reporting of proceedings pertaining to a “multi-million dollar” corruption case that would implicate the leaders of several countries, including “any current or former prime minister of Malaysia”.

The Supreme Court of Victoria “unprecedented” suppression order, dated June 19, was leaked on the anti-secrecy group Wikileaks’ website today.

The order applies only in Australia. It cites, as grounds for the order, the risk of prejudice to the persons named in the order, and that such reporting can be prejudicial to Australia’s national security.

“The purpose of these orders is to prevent damage to Australia's international relations that may be caused by the publication of material that may damage the reputations of specified individuals who are not the subject of charges in these proceedings,” the alleged court order reads.

Apart from the current and former prime ministers of Malaysia, other Malaysians named in the order are former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s sister-in-law (named in the order as Puan Noni), former finance minister Daim Zainuddin (left), former international trade minister Rafidah Aziz, and former foreign affairs minister Syed Hamid Albar.

Several Indonesian and Vietnamese leaders were also named in the order, such as former Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyuno (who was still in power when the order was made), Vietnamese president Truong Tan San, and Vietnamese prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung.

Affidavit ordered sealed

The order also purportedly applies to Australia's Permanent Representative to the United Nations Gillian Bird’s affidavit to the court, which it says is to be sealed in an envelope until the court orders otherwise. Bird was the former Australian ambassador to Asean.

According to Wikileaks, the trial concerns allegations that several Securency and Note Printing Australia (NPA) agents had given millions in inducements to secure contracts to supply polymer banknotes to Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and other countries.

Securency and NPA were both subsidiaries of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) until it sold its stake in Securency last year.

Previously in 2011, eight Securency and NPA employees were reportedly charged for bribing or conspiring to bribe foreign public officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam in order to secure the contracts.

Following this, two Malaysians were also charged in Kuala Lumpur and Shah Alam – former Bank Negara assistant governor Mohamad Daud Dol Moin for allegedly receiving a RM100,000 inducement to award NPA a contract to print RM5 banknotes, and businessperson Abdul Kayum Syed Ahmad who was accused of facilitating the payment to Mohamad Daud.

However, it is unclear whether the Victoria court order deals with the same set of charges filed in 2011, or are on fresh graft charges against the two companies’ executives.

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