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Malaysian Speaker bans talk in Parliament on US’ 1MDB civil suit

KUALA LUMPUR — United States Justice Department’s (DoJ) ongoing lawsuit to seize assets linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) cannot be discussed in the Malaysian Parliament as it would be tantamount to sub judice, said Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.

Malaysian Speaker bans talk in Parliament on US’ 1MDB civil suit

A construction worker talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo: Reuters

KUALA LUMPUR — United States Justice Department’s (DoJ) ongoing lawsuit to seize assets linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) cannot be discussed in the Malaysian Parliament as it would be tantamount to sub judice, said Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia.

He said the lawsuit is still a court matter and as such, ministers do not need to respond to questions on the topic as well.

“In fact, there is no need for a written reply either as that would be sub judice as well,” he told Members of Parliament (MPs) during the parliamentary sitting on Monday (Oct 17).

“I have made my decision, and it’s not the kind of decision I made in haste, I have thought it through.”

He added his decision would also be conveyed in writing to all MPs to prevent further discussion on the lawsuit.

Mr Pandikar’s decision prompted objection from opposition lawmakers such as Democratic Action Party’s (DAP) Mr Lim Kit Siang and Mr Gobind Singh Deo who demanded that the Speaker reconsider his ruling.

“The sub judice is in another country. So how does it apply to us here?” Mr Lim was quoted as saying by The Star Online. However, Mr Pandikar said that he would not review his ruling unless a private motion was tabled.

The DoJ filed a civil lawsuit in July seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion (S$1.39 billion) in assets linked to what it described as an “international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated” from troubled state investment firm 1MDB.

The lawsuit named Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stepson, Mr Riza Aziz, a Hollywood producer of films including The Wolf of Wall Street, as well as financier Mr Jho Low, who is a long-time friend of Mr Aziz and his family.

In the wake of the DoJ’s announcement, Mr Najib had said Malaysia takes good governance seriously and will fully cooperate with investigators.

Besides the lawsuit, five other countries are said to be conducting investigations into transactions related to 1MDB, including Singapore and Switzerland.

Mr Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the 1MDB scandal, which erupted last year, following reports that RM2.6 billion (S$856 million) had been deposited into his private accounts, as well as of financial irregularities in 1MDB.

Malaysia’s Attorney-General has cleared Mr Najib of wrongdoing, saying that the money in his bank account was a political donation from the Saudi royal family, and that the bulk of it has been returned. AGENCIES

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