Important news emerging from Kuwait over the past few days has so far gone unremarked in KL.
This despite the fact that it concerns the disposal of nearly two billion dollars of stolen Malaysian money – money first reported to be hidden in the gulf state by Sarawak Report back in 2020.
After two years of investigations by the anti-money laundering authorities in that country, which sources say have been hugely frustrated by a lack of Malaysian official cooperation following the fall of the PH government, it has been announced that a court case will open on September 13th relating to the frozen cash.
Once again the misappropriated millions lead right back to the web of criminality around the former UMNO prime minister Najib Razak (now finally jailed this week) acting through his catspaw Jho Low.
In the dock will be three Kuwaiti nationals accused of entering into a scheme to help Najib steal the cash from Malaysian public funds, first in the guise of funding the planned East Coast Rail Link and then two oil pipe lines which were never built.
The defendants are the powerful son of the former Kuwaiti prime minister who was in office at the time, Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, his lawyer Saud Abdelmohsan and an old college friend of Jho Low, Hamad al Wazzan, who is understood to have connected the Malaysian fraudster to powerful figures in Kuwait.
According to local media the three have been released on bail of 50,000 dinars (RM725,000) each after months of investigations.
It was Sarawak Report that first alerted the Kuwait authorities and Malaysian public to this enormous stash of hidden cash, thanks to whistleblowers who have faced harassment after falling foul of the corrupt officials and Sheikh Sabah.
It represents a further vast theft following on from the 1MDB scandal for which Najib is currently convicted and is facing further trials.
As we detailed at the time the misappropriation was partly to help cover up the gaping hole left from the previous thefts by the prime minister from the original 1MDB fund which by 2016 was facing major debt repayments.
The Royal family of Abu Dhabi (which had itself been involved in receiving huge kickbacks from the 1MDB heist) had stepped in to shoulder the repayments in 2016 but only temporarily and wanted a billion back.
Chinese state companies agreed, in a deal brokered with the assistance of the Chinese government, to forward funds supposedly for the ECRL, which Najib suddenly boosted by 100%, which were then purloined to cover those repayments. Sarawak Report broke that story.
It was only later that it was discovered how much of that money had then been funnelled to Kuwait from the Chinese construction company CCCC into an account owned by Sheikh Sabah in ICBC Bank on the guise of payment for a ‘bitumen shipment’. It was then funnelled back to Malaysia through a Seychelles company fronted by his lawyer Saud Abdelmohsan but owned by Sh Sabah to allegedly buy land owned by 1MDB (the title was never transferred),
That cash was then spirited immediately by 1MDB to Abu Dhabi to pay back its debts so that the corrupted prime minister could pretend that the fund had not been missing money after all.
The entire plot was characteristically managed by Najib’s catspaw Jho Low and bore all the standard hallmarks, including the naming of the Seychelles vehicle to make it sound like a large Chinese state subsidiary in keeping with the huge sums flowing through, namely Silk Road Southeast Asia Real Estate Ltd.
The duo then proceeded to repeat the swindle using the same Kuwaiti Sheikh who opened further companies to receive the up-front cash provided for the bogus pipe line projects. Altogether, the Kuwaiti authorities have announced that they have identified $1.8 billion in the sheikh’s accounts relating to the scam, money they froze after Sarawak Report alerted the public to the scandal back in 2020.
In principle, this money ought to have been earmarked for return to Malaysia, much in the same way that several billions of dollars in cash, fines and assets have been repatriated from the US and elsewhere (thanks to the exposes by Sarawak Report followed by the action by foreign law enforcers).
However, by 2020 the Harapan government that had been voted in by an electorate desperate to see the back of Najib and his crimes, had been toppled. Back in office were Najib’s old cronies from UMNO and a bunch of newly minted fellow travellers. One key vote in the razor thin majority of this coalition of election losers was that of Najib himself.
Thus it has been that the Kuwaiti authorities, who have themselves taken on one of their own most powerful families by arresting and charging Sheikh Sabah, have found themselves facing a stunning lack of official cooperation from KL. The money has remained in limbo as a deafening silence descended.
According to sources speaking to Sarawak Report numerous requests for mutual assistance from the new AG’s Chambers established by the PN/BN governments have remained unanswered.
Perhaps the new AG has been too busy with the string of prosecutions against UMNO warlords, which his office has methodically gone about dropping over the past few months despite the enormous weight of evidence against them?
There have been visits and fact finding expeditions to Kuwait by the MACC about this matter. However, nothing concrete had emerged from the situation until the stunning development last month when recent negotiations came to light between the fugitive Jho Low’s New York lawyers and the AG’s office itself, by which the mega-thief had been offering $1.5 billion in return for the dropping of all the charges against him as well!
Acting as the middleman was Najib’s favourite ‘discredited’ law officer Apandi Ali.
Following outcry the AG’s Chambers announced these negotiations will not proceed but there is every reason to believe that the Kuwaiti stash of cash represented the chips that Jho was planning to bargain with, possibly to get his Kuwaiti co-conspirators off the hook as well.
In the absence of such a deal it is clear Kuwait has opted to proceed with charges with no talk of cash through the back door for UMNO’s brokers around Najib (thank God the man is now under relative lock and key).
Sarawak Report humbly suggests that Malaysian ought to be alert to the fate of this stolen money curated by a plainly exasperated Kuwait, who has sought to tackle its own corruption only to find Malaysia’s government unwilling to admit a further outrage on the part of its ‘Bosku’ leader.
It seems only foreigners are fighting for the Malaysian people once again whilst Najib’s UMNO dithers between more cover-ups and what look like efforts to steal the money all over again.