The presence of Zafrul Aziz, the pal of the Agong, himself a pal of Crown Prince Mohammed (the older brother of the IPIC boss Sheikh Mansour), sitting next to new prime minister Anwar Ibrahim at the London signing of IMDB’s settlement with Abu Dhabi this week tells most of what you need to know about this deal.
Yes, the $1.8 billion pay out was a win for Malaysia in that the Gulf state had originally had the cheek to attempt to claim that it was Malaysia who owed IPIC an astonishing $6 billion.
That was in accordance with an outrageous and fraudulent 2017 ‘consent award’ that was signed up to by an increasingly desperate Najib Razak after his role in the crooked heist became exposed and he was forced to beg IPIC’s subsidiary Aabar to pay up on a bogus guarantee to cover debts.
By instead paying Malaysia the Gulf royals and their minions have finally admitted what had long since become perfectly plain, which was that it was in fact they who owed the money to Malaysia, having been among the bad actors who had collaborated with Najib to loot 1MDB to the tune of billions using a false front of joint investments in Malaysian projects.
Mansour himself had walked off with a cool $160 million contribution towards the cost of his latest super-yacht – after all the convicted Goldman Sachs banker who drew up the scheme had been warned by Najib’s man, Jho Low, that the younger bro’ of MBZ “doesn’t get out of bed for less than $100 million”.
Most Malaysians have heard the secretly recorded tapes of the frantic discussions between the beleaguered PM (Najib) and the Crown Prince as they whispered how to rescue the people ‘close to them’ (Riza Aziz and Sheikh Mansour) from the catastrophic consequences of their ill deeds. The ‘consent award’ was the direct upshot of that discussion.
The crunch came with the election win by PH in 2018 and the prompt legal action taken by the Mahathir government to counter that fraudulent cover up which had bound Malaysia to pay through the nose to drag Abu Dhabi into temporarily covering Najib’s 1MDB debts under the false narrative that the money which had been stolen had indeed gone to purchase a fake guarantee by IPIC.
The cover-up agreement had all been secretly processed through a private arbitration court and Malaysia’s legal team went straight to London to demand the entire matter be removed to the criminal courts on the grounds it was a fraud. Britain’s Appeal Court on the evidence presented agreed and did just that, stripping away the bogus commitments entered into by Najib.
Abu Dhabi then tried to save their bacon by countering that the matter was out of time. However, again Malaysia achieved a victory in the High Court in London which ruled that, given Najib and his bunch of crooks had been in charge to prevent proper action from being taken by Malaysia, the normal time constraints should not apply.
1MDB was granted leave to bring their case out of time.
By 2020 all this had put the IPIC/ Abu Dhabi corner in a total pickle, therefore, and their lawyers clearly recognised that fact since Sarawak Report has it on very good authority that at that point the Gulf lawyers stepped forward with an immediate settlement offer of $2 billion rather than fight the case a moment longer under the full glare of publicity in a London court.
After all, the evidence of collusion and profiteering by Abu Dhabi actors of the highest rank was overwhelming and the Malaysian parties to the fraud were themselves already under prosecution and heading to jail in Najib’s case.
How could the Crown Prince contemplate a scenario where his own brother would have to take the stand over his elbow deep involvement in the ‘heist of the century’ to be grilled by 1MDB’s top team of barristers?
Worse, Crown Prince ‘MBZ’ himself had personally signed the so-called Strategic Partnership Agreement between Aabar and 1MDB in the midst of fanfare in the centre of KL, March 2013, enabling Najib to raise a $3 billion bond just before the 2013 election, most of which was instantly stolen and spent on trying to buy votes and bribe allies. Clearly MBZ would be asked to take the stand as well.
So, naturally, Malaysia asked for a more realistic sum than $2 billion, commensurate to the enormous damage done by this fraud to Malaysia and 1MDB, which by 2019 was burdened with costs and debts amounting to circa $13 billion.
Originally, KL had counter-claimed $6 billion in response to Abu Dhabi’s outrageous gambit to screw over its brother Muslim nation a second time. However, what Malaysia put on the table after Abu Dhabi caved was a demand for $3 billion.
At that point PH was dislodged from power by the Sheraton Coup and the new government appointed by the new Agong immediately moved to suspend the case in favour of protracted settlement negotiations led by Zafrul whom the Agong had required to be made Finance Minister as part of the agreement to appoint the leader of the coup, Muhyiddin, as prime minister.
A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. However, the same set of circumstances remained after the election with no settlement having been reached. A court date was set for this summer putting maximum pressure on the Abu Dhabi side, given Malaysia were the plain victims in this case.
It has made this hasty surprise settlement by the Anwar government accepting a mere $1.8 billion from Abu Dhabi look distinctly anaemic, compared to what a bit of proper hardball might have achieved for Malaysia’s looted coffers.
Which is why the presence of Mr Zafrul says so much. As a minister of international trade he has no present responsibility for the case, although as the former minister of finance he was previously central to the negotiations that failed to conclude.
Zafrul was rejected by the electorate when he attempted to win a seat at the last election, but once again it has been reported the Agong insisted on his appointment in the new government as a condition for allowing the leader of the winning party to form his administration.
Ever since, Zafrul has been flying to and forth from the Gulf, on occasion accompanied by the Agong. It was clear that IPIC were going to have to concede given the threat of the legal action and all the signals suggest the royal ties of friendship have been put into play to soften the blow at Malaysia’s expense.
Meanwhile, numerous questions remain around the other settlements orchestrated by these same players regarding 1MDB, in particular with Goldman Sachs and AmBank, Deloitte and others.
Such has been the unwarranted secrecy imposed by Zafrul and the previous government he was part of that concerns and accusations have abounded about how the money was handled and how much of it actually went into the trust set up to pay 1MDB’s debts.
This secrecy should end and the full details of this latest transaction provided to the relevant parliamentary and oversight bodies.
In this context there is concern that the outgoing Attorney General, also appointed on the grounds he is a close confidant of the Agong (together with his brother the former Speaker) may now be seeking to extend his term of office which is due to expire in days.
AG Harun presided over the above settlements which were then classified as official secrets. Why is there now apparent pressure on the present elected Government to retain this official beyond his end by date?
Surely, it is time for the shenanigans to end, a new AG to be urgently appointed and a proper review be undertaken as to just what happened to the assets returned to 1MDB?
There is no need for further interference in this process. Malaysia is a parliamentary democracy with a clear constitution, not a Gulf family-run autocracy, whatever dangerous aspirations some might hold.