Wednesday, September 2, 2015

World anti-corruption head slams Najib on home ground


BY ANISAH SHUKRY Published: 2 September 2015 4:08 PM

The 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference is taking place in Putrajaya from today until Friday. The Transparency International president Jose Ugaz has made a veiled reference to the prime minister's role in the 1MDB scandal.

The 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference is taking place in Putrajaya from today until Friday. The Transparency International president Jose Ugaz has made a veiled reference to the prime minister's role in the 1MDB scandal.

Malaysia must provide answers on the US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) transferred to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's accounts, Transparency International told an international anti-corruption conference in Putrajaya today. Its president, Jose Ugaz, said Malaysia's commitment towards fighting corruption cannot be taken seriously as long as it did not explain who paid the money, why, and what happened to it. "We want to see more progress (from Malaysia) but that cannot happen while there are unanswered questions about the US$700 million that made its way into the prime minister's personal bank account," said Ugaz at the opening ceremony of the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC).

 The hall, which comprised delegates from across the world, broke into applause at his statement. "No one can be in Malaysia and not be aware of the corruption allegations of recent months and how damaging they are to the country. "There is a corruption crisis here," said Ugaz. He said in recent weeks, the attorney-general “who was critical of the government” was replaced, the task force probing into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was suspended, investigators were‎ arrested, and newspapers suspended. "These are not the actions of a government that is fighting corruption. "We may well hear promises of reform. That is not what is needed at this time. And promises alone will not restore confidence and trust," said Ugaz. Ugaz, a Peruvian lawyer with a history of taking on grand corruption ‎, said only “one man” could provide answers, in an apparent reference to Najib. But he said if the man refused to come forward, then only a fully independent investigation, free from political interference, could uncover the truth. "Until that happens, no claim from the government on anti-corruption will be credible." Kuala Lumpur is hosting the ongoing IACC and Najib was to have given the keynote address. Earlier today, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Paul Low said he advised Najib to pull out from officiating IACC in Putrajaya today in case the environment turned "hostile". The conference at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre ends on Friday. Touted as a premier global gathering of anti-corruption stakeholders, the IACC is held once every two years and this year it drew 1,000 delegates from 130 countries. – September 2, 2015.  TMI.

Swiss freeze millions in bank accounts linked to 1MDB
Published: 2 September 2015 9:12 PM

Swiss authorities said today they had frozen funds in Swiss banks amid a probe into people linked to Malaysia's troubled state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.

"The Office of the Attorney-General of Switzerland (OAG) has frozen assets amounting to several tens of millions of US dollars on Swiss bank accounts," an OAG spokesman said by email in response to an enquiry.

"At this early stage of the procedure, the OAG is analysing and consolidating evidence. The OAG is already in contact with the Malaysian authorities. International cooperation with foreign countries, in particular with Malaysia, will probably be necessary to establish the facts," she said.

1MDB later released a satement saying "as far as 1MDB is aware, none of the company's bank accounts has been frozen".

It added that 1MDB was in the process of developing a better understanding of the ongoing investigations in Switzerland so the company could cooperate to its fullest extent. – Reuters, September 2, 2015.

Special Branch told Putrajaya to explain 1MDB since 2013, ex deputy chief says
Published: 23 August 2015 12:53 PM

Former Special Branch deputy director of police Datuk Abdul Hamid Bador says for 2 years, the police had advised the government to provide clear answers about 1MDB's alleged scandals. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, August 23, 2015.

Putrajaya thought it could explain issues surrounding its debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), but has failed to convince the people, former Special Branch deputy director Datuk Abdul Hamid Bador said today.

He said the police's intelligence unit had advised the government to provide clear answers about 1MDB's alleged scandals for the last two years, but had been told that Putrajaya knew how to handle the matter.

"We had foreseen it coming and we advised Putrajaya that the issue could be big," he said in a breakfast session with the media this morning.

"They thought that they could explain it, but unfortunately...," Hamid said.
1MDB was not a national threat, he added, but temperatures were rising.

"People want answers. It's a straight forward explanation, but if you say it's a tricky issue, then split it into several parts. Pick a right platform and explain," he said.

Hamid said the Special Branch had no power to decide on who would become prime minister and was only tasked with protecting the country.

"For the past 63 years it has gathered intelligence, dissected the information and reported it to the prime minister. We advise the prime minister on what is happening on the ground. The information is delivered to the policy makers and the top leadership in the form of suggestions, advice and reports," he said.

He urged the national leadership to "open their eyes and ears" and discard their "denial syndrome".

"The people are confused, stressed and angry over what has happened. 1MDB is confusing; come forward and explain. What is 1MDB? Where did the money go? Explain," Hamid said.

Instead, Putrajaya had people giving contradictory statements and incomplete answers.

Hamid also touched on moves that appeared to "change the goal posts" in the 1MDB probe, mentioning the Auditor-General and Public Accounts Committee's (PAC) now-suspended inquiry after a cabinet reshuffle which promoted four of its members into the cabinet.

"Don't say wait until the task force finishes, then keep changing the goal posts and delaying (the probe).

"Is it hard for the PAC, for the Auditor General to explain? If it is taking a long time, explain the parts which have been completed first," he said.

Putrajaya has been hard pressed to explain issues surrounding 1MDB, with criticism led by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and several opposition MPs, who have accused the government and the state investment firm of not answering transparently questions about its RM42 billion debts, overpriced purchases of power assets, and alleged involvement of businessman Low Taek Jho. – August 23, 2015