Over the past week BN bigwigs appear to have been rivalling to relieve Sarawak Report of any earlier role it may have played in pointing out corruption within their ranks.
Malaysians have looked on slack-jawed as top team-players from that party, who for years praised and fawned over each other, have started accusing one another of being plain and common thieves, instituting corruption enquiries and sending in jack-booted police officers to raid each other’s offices.
Of course, everyone else has been saying it all for years. When politicians on fixed salaries become sudden ‘Flash Harries’ and their kids start driving Ferraris and sitting on major boards, that’s what people tend to conclude, even though the evidence is another matter.
The BN politician against whom there is a mass of evidential proof of criminal corruption right now, however, is Prime Minister Najib Razak, although Najib has claimed time and again that no crime has been committed.
When last year the US Dept of Justice announced a massive investigation into 1MDB, for example, Najib responded it was just a ‘civil suit’ that didn’t mean a crime had been committed or that criminal charges would be pursued:
“I want to say that what was done by the DOJ recently does not involve me, or the Malaysian government, or 1MDB directly….This is not a criminal suit, but a civil suit… but it has been politicised by certain enemies”. [Najib on Indonesian Metro TV]
This was a false denial that few were taken in by, but it was designed to buy the Prime Minister time, which yesterday ran out. The inevitable next procedural step took place in the US courts when the FBI/DOJ argued for a stay of that civil case, on the basis that the criminal investigations behind the case are still on-going:
The United States makes this Motion on the ground that proceeding with the case is likely to have an adverse effect on the ability of the government to conduct a related federal criminal investigation….. The government seeks a stay pending the resolution of a related federal criminal investigation arising from the same fact alleged in the First Amended Complain on the grounds that proceeding with the instant action is likley to have an adverse effect on the government’s ability to conduct the related criminal investigation”
According to Bloomberg who sent a reporter to the court:
“An FBI agent warned in a U.S. court filing that information disclosed in the civil cases may reveal “potential targets and subjects of the investigation and the investigative techniques that have been and will be used in the investigation.”
“Such disclosures could result in the destruction of evidence, flight of potential subjects and targets, or the identification and intimidation of potential witnesses,” according to the agent’s declaration.” [Bloomberg]
The point of the asset seizure (which is indeed a civil action) was to prevent suspects cashing in their assets while those major criminal investigations took place. However, the entire asset seizure is based on the criminal allegations and if no crime were to be eventually proved those assets would have to be returned.
So, Najib’s claim that these procedings in the US were merely civil was always nonsense and so it has been again been proven in official wording for the umpteenth time.
Najib has also announced that he himself has not been cited as a person of interest or owner of the assets in those suits, despite being referred to numerous times in his guise as Malaysian Official One, throughout the suit. To which one must respond, that the above quote makes clear that “potential targets and subjects of the investigation” have yet to be revealed to prevent their flight, abuse of witnesses and the rest.
What does Najib make of this further quote, for example, as pointed out by the Malaysian media:
The document, however, did say that multiple individuals “including public officials and their associates, conspired to fraudulently divert billions of dollars from 1MDB through various means”
Incumbancy remains Najib’s vital trump card. It means that he can employ the entire state propaganda machine and client media to relay his false denials and misleading interpretations and to claim that none of this massive scandal implicates him. It means he can threaten, harass and intimidate anyone who says different. But, as the evidence mounts, less and less people are prepared to suspend their critical faculties in order to believe him.
Najib has not brought one piece of solid evidence to back his counter story, which is that an anonymous Saudi gave him a billion dollars, because he is such a fine Muslim fellow. After all, it’s nonsense.
Neither has Najib been able to present the slightest evidence that 1MDB (as opposed to the Ministry of Finance) finally managed to raise money from its bogus units to belatedly begin to pay back half the funds it currently owes to IPIC, plus massive interest.
Najib is likely to have been run out of office long before the criminal case over 1MDB reaches its conclusions, because the constant stream of revelations that investigation produces are steadily but surely eroding every last bit of credibility Malaysia’s Prime Minister ever had.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s statement will also have firmly knocked on the head the ridiculous claims that because US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Malaysia his fellow Justice Department will cease investigating the crime of 1MDB.
See excerpts below from the DOJ’s statement of facts before the court:
This in rem civil forfeiture action arises from the government’s investigation of an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”), a strategic investment and development company wholly-owned by the government of Malaysia. There are currently 29 related civil forfeiture actions pending before this Court... As alleged in detail in the FAC, 1MDB was ostensibly created to pursue investment and development projects for the economic benfit of Malaysia and its people, primarily relying on the issuanceof various debt securities to fund these projects. However, over the course of an approximately five-year period, between approximately 2009 and at least 2014, multiple individuals, includingpublic officials and their associates, conspired to fraudulentl divert billions of dollars from 1MDB through various means, including by defrauding foreign banks and by sending foreign wire communications in furtherance of the scheme, and thereafter, to launder the proceeds of that criminal conduct, including in and through U.S. financial institutions. It is further alleged that the funds diverted from 1MDB were used for the personal benefit of the coconspirators and their relatives and associates, among other things, to purchase luxury real estate in the United States and overseas, pay gambling expenses at Las Vegas casinos, acquire more than $200 million in artwork, purchase lavish gifts for family members and associates, invest in a major New York real estate development project, and fund the production of major Hollywood films. 1MDB maintained no interest in these assets and saw no returns on these investments........ As explained in the attached Declaration of Special Agent Jill Enyart (“Enyart declaration”), the government commenced a criminal investigation of the events described in the FAC prior to the commencement of the related actions. That investigation remains ongoing. As explained below and in Enyart’s Declaration, continuing the instant proceeding will have an adverse effect on the government’s ability to conduct that investigation, justifying a stay of the action for all purposes except the filing of timely claims and answers.