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Malaysia anti-graft commission urged to reopen case on banknote scandal

KUALA LUMPUR — An anti-graft pressure group has urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to reopen a multi-million-dollar corruption case related to the printing of bank notes, following the latest information by WikiLeaks that several local politicians, including Malaysia’s current and previous prime ministers, were allegedly involved.

KUALA LUMPUR — An anti-graft pressure group has urged the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to reopen a multi-million-dollar corruption case related to the printing of bank notes, following the latest information by WikiLeaks that several local politicians, including Malaysia’s current and previous prime ministers, were allegedly involved.

The case involves the Reserve Bank of Australia’s (RBA) subsidiary companies Securency and Note Printing Australia, as reported by WikiLeaks.

Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism director Cynthia Gabriel said although investment company Aksavest’s director, Abdul Kayum Ahmad, was charged for having given a RM50,000 (S$19,510) bribe to former Bank Negara assistant governor Muhammad Daud Dol Moin to win banknote printing contracts, it was evident that higher hands were involved.

“An independent body must be set up to initiate fresh investigations into the roles of the three premiers mentioned in the gag order,” she said.

“This must be thoroughly scrutinised and commitments made that information is not muzzled, and Malaysians are not kept blindfolded over the possible wrongdoings of our leaders.”

Ms Gabriel said the Malaysian government and central bank Bank Negara must make public the deal between the RBA and Malaysian companies involved. She said the names of companies and persons involved in dealing with Securency, which won the contracts in Malaysia between 1998 and 2004, must also be revealed.

WikiLeaks revealed that Prime Minister Najib Razak, his two predecessors Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as well as several former ministers, were named in a gag order obtained by the Australian government to censor the media there from reporting a multi-million dollar corruption case involving Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Employees from both firms are alleged to have bribed foreign officials in Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam from 1999 to 2004 to win contracts.

Others purportedly implicated were former Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, former International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz, and former Foreign Affairs Minister Syed Hamid Albar. It also included a sister-in-law of Mr Abdullah, who is identified only as Noni in the injunction.

WikiLeaks had managed to obtain a copy of the super injunction order, which had been granted to prevent damage to Australia’s international relations. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the orders had been made on the grounds that it was necessary to prevent prejudice to the interests of the Commonwealth in relation to national security.

Ms Gabriel said the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) must be invoked to pressure international investigations and cooperation in this case. She said Australia and Malaysia, who are both signatories to the convention, must lead by example and ensure that the scandal be given the public scrutiny it deserves.

“UNCAC very specifically says that state parties are obliged to assist each other in cross-border criminal matters. This includes gathering and transferring evidence of corruption for use in court,” she added.

The bribery allegations surfaced in 2009, which at the time prompted Australian Federal Police and the MACC to begin separate probes. In 2010, the MACC detained three individuals linked to the supply of RM5 polymer notes following a report that Securency had offered bribes to Malaysian officials. All three were charged with taking RM11.3 million to secure the contract from Bank Negara and to ensure the Malaysian government opted for the polymer notes.

In 2011, Mr Abdullah denied allegations that the two Australian firms had attempted to bribe him for a RM100 million contract during his tenure as Prime Minister. The attempt is believed to be related to the deal to supply RM5 polymer notes that began circulating in 2004. THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER

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