Asia

Malaysia calls on US to publicly name 1MDB complainants

Mr Hishammuddin Hussein, Malaysia’s Defence Minister. Photo: Malay Mail Online
Mr Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Minister in the Malaysian PM’s Department. Photo: Reuters
Minister says he suspects the complainants are those with a political agenda against Najib
Published: 4:00 AM, June 19, 2017
Updated: 12:31 PM, June 19, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR — The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) must publicly name the complainants in its investigations on money misappropriated from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan. He also suggested that the case was triggered by individuals with an agenda against the government.

Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein also challenged the DoJ to provide solid evidence to support its case.

Mr Abdul Rahman said yesterday that naming the complainants was necessary so the public could tell how deeply involved they were with the opposition parties, whose agenda is to overthrow Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“My suspicion is that these complainants are actually Malaysians with a heinous political agenda against the Prime Minister and the government,” he said in a statement.

“Malaysians deserve to know who these complainants are and the DoJ should reveal their identities.”

The minister said the DoJ had every right to file a suit but it was important to base the case on facts and not on rhetoric or ill-intentioned statements.

He noted that there is no evidence that money had been misappropriated from 1MDB, based on investigations conducted by Malaysia’s parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

“1MDB is not a party to the DoJ civil lawsuit. In fact, the assets that the DoJ alleges were wrongfully procured and seeks to seize, were in fact purchased by entities that are not legally owned nor controlled by 1MDB,” he said.

This time last year, American prosecutors filed civil asset-forfeiture suits against more than US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) worth of American assets bought with money allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.

Last year’s lawsuit also renewed calls from Mr Najib’s detractors — from opposition lawmakers to former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad — for him to quit.

Mr Najib has been under intense political pressure over the RM2.6 billion (S$840 million) deposited into his private accounts, as well as irregularities in 1MDB.

Last Thursday, the DoJ announced its latest civil filing that sought to seize US$540 million in assets obtained by funds allegedly stolen from 1MDB.

The DoJ’s latest filing was criticised by Putrajaya on Friday.

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali expressed disappointment that the DoJ did not inform or alert his office prior to its latest action. He said that no wrongdoing or misappropriation was found in 1MDB after the Malaysian firm was probed by various agencies, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Auditor-General and the bi-partisan PAC.

Weighing in on the issue, Mr Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad, a long-time aide of Mr Najib, suggested the DoJ has a motivation that goes beyond seizing assets.

1MDB stressed in a statement on Friday that it was not in any way linked to the latest lawsuit by the DoJ.

“1MDB notes that the civil lawsuit does not contain any appendices with documentary proof or witness statements to support the allegations made by the DoJ,” said the statement.

Meanwhile, Mr Hishammuddin, the Defence Minister, said yesterday that without solid evidence, any statement or allegation against certain individuals made by the DoJ would only tarnish its own reputation and credibility.

“Do not issue statement after statement without taking any follow-up action. After making an allegation, the DoJ must also take follow-up action so that those who were being accused will get the opportunity to answer and clear their names,” he said. “If no actions were taken, the DoJ’s credibility can be questioned by the public.” AGENCIES