Sunday, December 20, 2015

What The European Parliament Thinks Of Najib's Regime

The European Parliamentary Resolution On Malaysia - In Full

The European Parliamentary Resolution On Malaysia - In Full

19 Dec 2015

Reproduced with permission
Europe has woken up to the corruption and human rights abuses in Malaysia, thanks to the dedication and advocacy of brave campaigners… and also to the astonishing, headline catching abuses of Najib Razak himself over the past weeks.

Europe's democracies reminded of their strong ties with Malaysia and deplored the recent descent into dictatorship
Europe’s democracies reminded of their strong ties with Malaysia and deplored the recent descent into dictatorship

This is a time when Europe is concerned about extremism and violence targeted mainly at their own countries.

Even so, the representatives here were not prepared to be gulled into accepting Najib’s clampdowns on his own people and his own party under the excuse of so-called anti-terrorism measures.  They can see that by stamping on people’s liberties and rights Najib is creating the conditions for terror and instability, not the other way around.

The resolution shows Najib has fooled nobody in the world but himself and the self-interested flunkeys whom he has paid to support him.  The full resolution of the European Parliament is below and you can watch the debate on the resolution here:

The European Parliament,

–  having regard to its previous resolutions on Malaysia,

–  having regard to its resolution of 15 January 2014 on the future of EU-ASEAN relations(1) ,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 15 April 2015 on the recently adopted amendment to the Sedition Act in Malaysia,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 17 March 2015 on the arrest of Nurul Izzah, opposition Member of Parliament in Malaysia,

–  having regard to the Statement by the EEAS Spokesperson of 10 February 2015 on the conviction of Malaysian opposition politician Anwar Ibrahim,

–  having regard to the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights,

–  having regard to the Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights of 9 April 2015 on draft anti-terror and sedition laws,

–  having regard to the joint press release by the EEAS on the EU-ASEAN policy dialogue on human rights of 23 October 2015,

–  having regard to the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders,

–  having regard to UN Universal Periodic Review session of October 2013,

–  having regard to the report of the Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons of June 2015,

–  having regard to the second Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia before the UN Human Rights Council, and its recommendations, of October 2013,

–  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948,

–  having regard to the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of 1998,

–  having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966,

–  having regard to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) of 1984,

–  having regard to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Human Rights Declaration,

–  having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  whereas the EU regards Malaysia as a key political and economic partner in South-East Asia; whereas the EU and Malaysia are negotiating a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement and a Free Trade Agreement;

B.  whereas the space for public debate and free speech in Malaysia is rapidly narrowing as the government resorts to vaguely worded criminal laws to silence its critics and quell public discontent and peaceful expression, including debates on matters of public interest; whereas these laws include the Sedition Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act and the Peaceful Assembly act, amongst others;

C.  whereas on 3 December 2015 the National Security Council Bill was passed in the Malaysian Parliament by a majority vote; whereas the bill grants the National Security Council led by the Prime Minister sweeping powers to declare a state of emergency in any area deemed a security risk, giving broad powers of arrest, search and seizure without warrant;

D.  whereas under the Sedition Act alone at least 78 people have been investigated or charged since the beginning of 2014;

E.  whereas former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim was sentenced on charges of sodomy in February 2015 following a politically motivated prosecution which resulted in criminal proceedings that failed to meet international standards of fair trial; whereas he has been denied appropriate medical care;

F.  whereas LGBTI people in Malaysia are criminalised under the country’s anti-sodomy law and regional laws prohibiting cross-dressing, and face political hate speech, arbitrary arrest, physical and sexual assault, imprisonment, and other abuses;

G.  whereas Malaysian cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque (Zunar) is facing charges under the Sedition Act following critical tweets against the government with regard to the sentencing of Anwar Ibrahim; whereas blogger Khalid Ismath and academic Azmi Sharom face similar charges;

H.  whereas the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has questioned the Prime Minister in connection with graft allegations after the discovery of over 600 million euros in his bank account without any justification of source and purpose, as well as on separate allegations that hundreds of millions of euros were missing from deals involving a state firm he launched, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB);

I.  whereas media outlets and publishing houses have faced restrictions under the Printing Presses and Publications Act following reporting about these allegations, and whereas lawyer Matthias Chang and politician Khairuddin Abu Hassan were arrested following their investigations into these allegations;

J.  whereas the High Representative raised concerns regarding the abusive use of criminal laws during her visit to Malaysia on 5-6 August 2015;

K.  whereas, according to the UN and NGOs, the Malaysian police forces have increasingly resorted to acts of torture, late night arrests, unjustifiable remands and selective prosecution;

L.  whereas Malaysia continues to practice the death penalty with up to 1 000 prisoners currently on death row;

M.  whereas Malaysia is a Member of the UN Security Council and the current ASEAN Chair, and the 27th ASEAN Summit was held in Kuala Lumpur from 18 to 22 November 2015;

1.  Reaffirms the EU’s strong commitment to the Malaysian people with whom the EU has strong and longstanding political, economic and cultural ties;

2.  Deplores the deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia and in particular the crackdown on civil society activists, academics, media and political activists; expresses concern with regard to the spike in the number of people facing charges or arrest under the Sedition Act;

3.  Is particularly concerned about the adoption of the National Security Council Bill and urges its withdrawal; calls on the government to maintain a proper balance between the need to safeguard national security and the imperative to protect civil and political rights;

4.  Urges the Malaysian Government to immediately release all political prisoners, including former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and to provide them with appropriate medical care, and to drop politically motivated charges, including those against cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque (Zunar), blogger Khalid Ismath, academic Azmi Sharom, political dissidents Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang, and human rights activists Lena Hendry and Maria Chin Abdullah;

5.  Urges the Malaysian authorities to repeal the Sedition Act and to bring all legislation, including the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act, the Peaceful Assembly Act, and other relevant provisions of the penal code, in line with international standards on freedom of expression and assembly and the protection of human rights; calls on the Malaysian authorities to facilitate peaceful assemblies, and to guarantee the safety of all participants and their freedom of expression across the whole country;

6.  Urges the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), as recommended by the Police Commission of Inquiry in 2005, to investigate allegations of torture and deaths in police custody;

7.  Underlines the importance of independent and transparent investigations into the graft allegations, and of full cooperation with the investigators; urges the Malaysian Government to refrain from putting pressure on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and media;

8.  Deeply deplores the rise of supremacist groups which contribute further to the creation of ethnic tensions;

9.  Encourages the Malaysian Government to open a dialogue with opposition parties and civil society stakeholders;

10.  Calls on the Malaysian Government to ratify key international human rights conventions, including the ICCPR, the ICESCR, the CAT, the ICERD, ILO Convention 169, the ICC Rome Statute, as well as the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its optional protocol;

11.  Asks the Malaysian Government to extend a standing invitation to all the UN Special Procedures, thereby enabling special rapporteurs to visit Malaysia without asking for an invitation;

12.  Reiterates its position that the death penalty is a cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment, and calls on Malaysia to introduce a moratorium as the first step towards the abolition of the death penalty for all offences and to commute all death sentences to prison terms;

13.  Calls on the EU and its Member States to coordinate policies towards Malaysia, in line with the EU Strategic Framework on Human Rights, in order to encourage reform on the above issues of concern through all possible means, including in the context of the UN where Malaysia is a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2015-2016;

14.  Urges the EU Delegation to Malaysia to step up efforts to finance projects on freedom of expression and reforming repressive laws, and to use all appropriate tools, including the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, to protect human rights defenders; urges the withdrawal of the anti-sodomy law and calls on the EEAS, in line with the EU guidelines on the protection and promotion of the rights of LGBTI persons, to step up its work on the rights of LGBTI people in Malaysia who face violence and persecution, and to aim in particular towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality and transgenderism;

15.  Reaffirms the importance of the EU-ASEAN policy dialogue on human rights as a useful tool to exchange good practices and promote capacity-building initiatives;

16.  Calls on the Commission to make sure that human rights concerns are duly taken into account during future negotiations on an EU-Malaysia FTA and PCA;
17.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the parliament and government of Malaysia, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the governments of the ASEAN Member States.
Sarawak Report

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sarawak's Unaccounted For Borrowings

Sarawak's Frail 'Democracy' Exposes Its Failings With Suspension Of Opposition Leader

Sarawak's Frail 'Democracy' Exposes Its Failings With Suspension Of Opposition Leader

16 Dec 2015

Reproduced with permission

This post is also available in: Malay

YB Chong is the leader of Sarawak’s largest opposition party, Democratic Action Party (DAP).  He is also the elected representative of the Kota Sentosa Kuching constituency in the heart of the State’s capital city, comprising some 25,000 voters.

Yesterday, the Speaker of the Assembly,  Amar Mohamad Asfia, nonetheless booted him out of the Assembly, for what he and 35 BN representatives considered to be an ‘insulting‘ speech, in which he complained of ‘David Copperfield accounting’ in the state.

He will be banished for the remainder of the session, which granted in Sarawak can only mean a few days, since no session of the DUN is ever allowed to last more than a couple of weeks in this so-called democracy.

It is relevant to note that Asfia himself is not himself elected and in fact represents nobody but Taib Mahmud.  The Governor appointed him back in 2000 and he has been acting as the DUN headmaster ever since – shutting people up, switching off microphones and telling YBs what they can and cannot do.

So, under this singular arrangement, the Speaker in Sarawak (and Sabah) is not a member of the house, chosen by his fellow YBs, as with normal parliaments across the world, but an unelected bureaucrat selected by the head of the executive, the Chief Minister himself.

This one anomaly turns the tables on democracy, because it means that the elected  representatives of the people, are not in fact in charge of the executive, which is their legal role as the ultimate authority in the state.

Instead, it is the executive which appoints this lapdog Speaker, who calls the shots over the elected assembly and selectively ‘punishes’ those who cause problems for the Chief Minister.

Other democratic parliaments across the world would gasp at such an authoritarian system, which takes the power away from the people’s representatives and places it so squarely with the executive. However, it is strongly suspected that most people in Sarawak do not realise how they have been cheated and that BN are in no hurry to educate them on the basics of democracy.

‘Insulting’ or doing his duty – what caused Chong’s censure?

So, what was this “insulting” speech for which the leader of the opposition has been silenced and removed for an entire session?

It turns out that Chong had raised an issue that is quite rightly of major concern to his constituents – the subject of the state finances and the mysterious waste of huge sums of public money.

He aptly conjured a term ‘David Copperfield economics’ to express the frustration of YBs faced with claims of a surplus, when the state is patently earning less than it is spending. Is it not the job of an opposition politician to raise such issues and wasn’t the strong arm response merely a sign that this government was short of convincing answers?

Sarawak’s dodgy high interest loans are draining state finances

Of course, Chong has been a thorn in the side of the state government for some time on the subject of financial mismanagement.  At the start of this session he issued a statement which raised a long standing concern – those vast and shadowy borrowings initiated by Taib for various unspecified projects, for which the state is still paying enormous rates of interest.
“Adenan has tried to justify these borrowings but failed miserably,” said Chong. “It only confirms my suspicion that there are great improprieties in these offshore loans taken by the Sarawak Government.”
..Who are the bond holders?” he asked. “Are these bond holders related to the top Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders with a lot of money overseas? Why is the Sarawak Government paying so much interest on these loans?” [Free Malaysia Today Nov 29th]
Chong and DAP have been warning for the past five years that around half of Sarawak’s budget has been hived off to sustain borrowing for projects no one has any information about.  Huge sums are being diverted into an ‘Approved Agencies Trust Fund’, believed to be guaranteeing money, which is believed to have been borrowed to finance SCORE.

It is not lost on Sarawakians that most of the projects in this so-called mega-industrialisation project have been earmarked for Taib family companies.

What Chong pointed out was that there continues to be a very expensive mystery surrounding these borrowed monies, which were not raised in the way governments normally do, through mainstream banking institutions on the open markets, but through shadowy and unusual off-shore deals, which have turned out to be hugely costly and remain totally non-transparent.
“On average, the state government is paying more than 6 per cent per annum on these loans.”
The 6 per cent, pointed out Chong, is 40 per cent more than the average interest paid on sovereign loans taken by the Malaysian Government at various times. “Why borrow and pay interest when we have RM27 billion in reserves sitting in the bank, in Fixed Deposit, earning only 2 per cent to 3 per cent interest per annum?”
Why indeed?

Sarawak Report has covered this issue in the past, asking why the Chief Minister has chosen to raise billions for example, in the case of Sarawak Energy, through the auspices of a wealth management company called Equity Trust using a secretive off-shore bond issue in Labuan, rather than raising money through a mainstream bank in the normal way?

Why are Sarawakians not entitled to know why they are forking out some 6% interest for that enormous loan, when given the state’s credit rating they could have borrowed it on the open market from an international bank for around 3%?

Chong has drawn attention to other such loans, including the mysterious financing of a Sarawak State company Equisar, which again is through Labuan and again at double the rate of the open market.
“It doesn’t make financial sense. When the money is paid out from these offshore loans, no questions can be asked in the State Assembly.”
…..all the loans taken were at extremely high interest rates payable by the state government.
Chong said that based on figures revealed by the Sarawak Government, the particulars on the offshore loans taken by it were as follows for the year end 2015: Sarawak Capital Incorporated Bond due in 2026. Principal amount still owing is USD165 million and balance of interest owing is USD148.96 million; Equisar International Incorporated Notes due in 2026. Principal amount still owing is USD533.5 million and balance of interest owing is USD556.75 million; and SSG Resources Ltd Notes due in 2022. Principal amount still owing is USD560 million and balance of interest still owing is USD238 million. [Free Malaysia Today]
Why is it so “insulting” to make such points and to ask for explanations on behalf of the public – this is their hard-earned public cash?

Indeed the extreme reluctance to answer Chong and the extraordinary strong arm tactics in chucking him out of the Assembly, for doing nothing but his duty, can only set minds wandering.

One can’t help but surmise how, Taib and his family have plenty of money tucked away in the very same tax havens where these bonds have been raised – money that must actually be pretty hard to find ways to invest it, since they ought not have it in the first place.

If Sarawakians are not given proper answers about who is lending them this money for mysterious projects, therefore, then they are entitled to wonder if this high rate of interest is being offered to none other than the obscenely wealthy Taib family themselves and their various hangers-on, who have been looking for ways to invest their billions rather than leave it loitering in the hands of wealth managers in off-shore havens.

It is hard to think of another incentive that could have mades sense for the Chief Minister to have authorised the borrowing of such huge sums of money at double the rate of interest the State of Sarawak needed to pay.

If there is another good reason, why are the people’s representatives not entitled to hear it loud and clear in the proper place – which is the DUN Assembly?

Sarawak Report

How Najib & Jho Low Played "Hide & Seek" With 1MDB's & KWAP's Money

Reproduced with permission

Playing Games With Names — Jho Low’s Modus Operandi

The Auditor General, who is known for his upright approach, is going to have a hard time re-setting a date for the publication of his report into 1MDB — due today, but postponed till further notice.

Like the Attorney General, Deputy Prime Minister, Head of the Public Accounts Committee, Vice President for UMNO, Special Branch Chief and shortly the Head of the Central Bank, he may find himself replaced first. At least he is still alive, unlike the investigator from the MACC into this dirty business, Kevin Morais
Today’s report in the Wall Street Journal shows that 1MDB paid a total of US$850 million into a bogus off-shore company, using the name of the Abu Dhabi fund Aabar, Aabar Investments PJS Ltd.
Playing games with names — Jho Low’s modus operandi
It follows on from our own expose earlier this week detailing that, contrary to claims by 1MDB, the Seychelles company Good Star Limited belongs entirely to Jho Low, which confirms that the Prime Minister’s nominee was running 1MDB’s operations and indeed running off with a great deal of the money.

The revelation also confirms a pattern that has provided unmistakable evidence of a ‘modus operandi’ by the youthful Official Advisor to 1MDB, which was the title given to Low. We can point to numerous transactions involving Jho Low and his nightclubbing friend, Aabar’s Khadam Al Qubaisi, which essentially consist of playing games with names to give the impression that shadowy off-shore companies were some sort of subsidiary of major concerns.

These companies have all turned out to be linked to suspicious losses of money from 1MDB.

PetroSaudi International Limited (Seychelles)

Take PetroSaudi International Limited, Seychelles, which was positioned as a subsidiary to PetroSaudi Holdings Limited (Cayman) which was involved in the joint venture with 1MDB. In fact (after considerable to-ing and fro-ing about how to set up the arrangement) it was a company totally controlled by Jho Low through an investment management deal with one of his own off-shore companies Panama Investment Manager, which gave him control over all its money.

Tarek Obaid had agreed to act as the Director of PetroSaudi International, but in a personal capacity, not linked to the main joint venture partner as alleged.

During its buy out of UBG, orchestrated by Jho Low, who had a major personal stake in the company, there was much concern expressed by AmBank officials negotiating the deal about who exactly did own this supposed off-shoot of PetroSaudi (which had received the money used to buy UBG from 1MDB).

They were told that the shady nature of the ownership was owning to the need to conceal the private interest of the King of Saudi Arabia in the deal! They accepted the excuse, which was a lie.

SRC Global

Business partners and party pals Jho Low and Khadem Al Qubaisi
In 2013 the Aabar owned Spanish oil giant CEPSA purchased the Canadian company Coastal Energy for US$2.3 billion, in a deal masterminded of course by their boss the then all-powerful Chairman Khadem Al Qubaisi.

Strangely, he did the deal in tandem with a private company owned by none other than Jho Low, which took an option on the sale in its alleged role as ‘facilitator’. That company of Jho Low’s went by the name of Strategic Resources Global. The details of SRG’s involvement have yet to be published, however insiders have intimated that the point of the option was that it could then be valuably sold back to CEPSA.

Given Low’s established history of using 1MDB money as backing for other private deals forged together with his pal Khadem from Aabar (see our exposes on the London Hotel bids of 2011) there can only be questions asked as to the strikingly similar name of the 1MDB subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.

The shadowy nature of SRC International has caused constant comment in Malaysia, set up as it was with RM4 billion borrowed from the public pension fund KWAP, which has never been properly accounted for. One of its known ventures however (through a BVI vehicle naturally) was a joint venture with none other than that sturdy business partner Aabar and KAQ, named none other than Aabar-SRC Strategic Resources Ltd.

Was name play once again at work as money flushed through these off-shore concerns with such similar names and confusion of cross-ownerships? Did, by any chance, money flow in this fashion from the pension fund through 1MDB and its joint ventures with Aabar and into a private deal between Jho Low and Khadem?

We cannot know, because when questioned on these matters, the Finance Minister (cum Prime Minister, cum sole shareholder of 1MDB) hived SRC off from 1MDB and put it under his own Ministry of Finance portfolio, from where he has refused to release transparent accounts ever since. The public money remains unaccounted for!

Merryl Capital

Move on to what the Australian newspaper describes as the mysterious off-shore company Merryl Capital, which was stuck right in the middle of the unravelling scandal in Australia over the finance company Bridge Global, which Najib (doubtless on the advice of 1MDB’s advisor Jho Low) used to invest the alleged profits (obtained not in cash, but in ‘promissory notes’ mind you) made from the PetroSaudi deal, from which Good Star had siphoned most of 1MDB’s original investment.

As the Australian points out, despite its name, this entity has nothing to do with the more famous Merryl Lynch.
Bridge Partners didn’t pay in cash but in promissory notes — IOUs — which 1MDB then invested in Bridge Global Absolute ­Return. According to Bridge Global’s prospectus, Bridge Global Absolute Return is managed by Hanhong, a Hong Kong securities company in which it planned to buy a half stake.
Bridge Global Absolute Return owns almost 10 per cent of Bridge Global, making it the company’s second-biggest shareholder behind another mysterious offshore entity, Merrill Capital, which owns 10.2 per cent.
Despite its name, Merrill Capital appears not to be linked to Merrill Lynch, according to Mr Childs’ affidavit. It is instead a UAE company associated with Mr Goh that owns some 8.5 per cent of Avestra.
To cover the Petrosaudi hole, it’s alleged that in 2012 1MDB signed a deal with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Corporation under which IPIC guaranteed $US3.5bn of bonds issued by 1MDB.

Aabar Investments PJS Ltd

So, it looks like we have an established modus operandi indeed when it comes to the way Jho Low played David Copperfield conjuring tricks with 1MDB’s money, as it slipped away from the public fund that was being administered by his boss the PM, and into companies with names designed to make them sound like a more reputable outfit linked to established 1MDB deals.
Khadem was sacked in Abu Dhabi after irregularities were exposed
The latest revelation that US$850 million was likewise transferred to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd by 1MDB thus follows an established pattern. The WSJ have reported that Aabar has confirmed that this off-shore BVI entity, which was opened to take the money and then closed down agains shortly after, has nothing to do with their own group.

Abu Dhabi have, of course, long since sacked Khadem Al Qubaisi, after all these irregularities came to light at the start of the year. Yet, Malaysia’s PM continues to defend 1MDB and Jho Low and he is obstructing vigorously the attempts to investigate what went wrong with all that missing money.

Other off-shore companies with surprisingly similar names to more reputable firms doubtless wait to be discovered and the 1MDB scandal continues to inevitably unravel in the face of the international investigations underway.

READ the full story by Wall Street Journal below:
People passing a 1Malaysia Development Bhd. billboard in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in March. PHOTO: REUTERS

Malaysia’s 1MDB Sent $850 Million to Entity Set Up to Appear Owned by Abu Dhabi Wealth Fund

A troubled Malaysian state investment fund sent at least $850 million last year to an offshore entity set up to appear that it was owned by an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund, a transfer which deepens the mystery over billions of dollars that are unaccounted for, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter.

The 1Malaysia Development Bhd. fund, or 1MDB, set up by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to promote economic development, is under investigation in at least six countries over a broad array of allegations that money was siphoned off for political spending and for personal gain.

One focus of investigation is $2.4 billion in payments that 1MDB said it made to a unit of Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co., or IPIC, as part of a deal involving the Malaysian fund’s purchase of power plants. The Journal reported in September that IPIC officials had concluded they did not receive the money, according to people familiar with the matter.

A 1MDB unit transferred at least $850 million via three transactions last year to a British Virgin Islands-registered company with a name that made it look like it was controlled by IPIC, according to wire transfer documents viewed by the Journal and two people familiar with the matter.

The 1MDB fund sent the money to “Aabar Investments PJS Ltd.” which closely resembles the name of IPIC’s wholly owned subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS, the wire documents show.
Aabar, the IPIC subsidiary, is an Abu Dhabi-registered company that holds prominent investments in the space tourism venture Virgin Galactic and a 5.1% stake in UniCredit SpA, Italy’s biggest bank.

Executives at IPIC and Aabar investigating the transfers have concluded neither of the two Abu Dhabi funds ever owned or controlled the British Virgin Islands company, according to the people familiar with the matter. Records in the British Virgin Islands don’t give any details on the owners or directors of the company.

The records show the British Virgin Islands firm was incorporated on March 14, 2012, and liquidated on June 23 this year, a time of growing criticism of 1MDB from opposition politicians and within Mr. Najib’s ruling party.

The 1MDB fund, in a statement to the Journal after publication of this article, did not reply to questions previously submitted about the transfers. The statement said “that the Wall Street Journal continues its campaign to malign 1MDB.” The fund also said it was cooperating with investigators. 1MDB in the past has said it stands by its financial statements, which show it made the payments to the Abu Dhabi fund.

An IPIC spokesman did not respond to questions. The Abu Dhabi fund hasn’t made any public statements about its relationship with 1MDB or the missing money.

Mr. Najib promised the fund would spur economic development by investing in new industries like renewable energy. But it has only bought existing power plants and land, while rolling up over $11 billion in debt that it is struggling to repay.

The transfers involving Abu Dhabi are among a series of transactions by 1MDB that are the focus of investigations. In Malaysia, the fund is being probed by the auditor general, the nation’s anticorruption body, the central bank and a parliamentary committee.

In 2012, 1MDB issued $3.5 billion in bonds to fund the purchase of power plants in Malaysia and overseas. The Abu Dhabi fund guaranteed the bonds.

The 1MDB fund’s publicly-available financial statements for the year ending March 31, 2013, show it paid $1.4 billion to IPIC’s unit Aabar as collateral for guaranteeing the bonds. The Malaysian fund said it paid another $993 million to Aabar in 2014 to cancel options granted to IPIC to buy a stake in 1MDB’s power assets, according to a copy of a draft report into 1MDB by Malaysia’s auditor general and 1MDB board minutes reviewed by the Journal.

Officials at IPIC say neither they nor any subsidiary received this money, the Journal reported. It is not clear why the payments were made to Aabar since IPIC made the guarantee.

IPIC’s consolidated financial statements, which include Aabar, make no reference to the collateral payment. A footnote in the 2014 statements said that as of the end of that year 1MDB owed IPIC $481.3 million in outstanding payments for the options.

No substantial amount of money was received by IPIC, the people familiar with the matter said. It isn’t clear how IPIC arrived at the $481.3 million figure and whether it relates to the $993 million transfer 1MDB says it made to IPIC as partial payment to cancel the options.

IPIC’s former managing director, Khadem Al Qubaisi, was dismissed in April by a presidential decree. The new management team of IPIC has been scrutinizing Mr. Al Qubaisi’s activity at the fund, according to the people familiar with the matter.

The latest twist in the 1MDB saga comes as Mr. Najib battles a separate scandal linked to the fund. Malaysian investigators said earlier this year that nearly $700 million was transferred into his personal bank accounts through entities linked to 1MDB, including a private Swiss bank owned by IPIC.

The source of the funds was unclear and the government investigation didn’t detail what happened to the money that allegedly went into Mr. Najib’s accounts.

Malaysia’s anticorruption body in August said the funds were a donation from the Middle East. The donor wasn’t specified.

Mr. Najib has denied wrongdoing and said he didn’t use any money for personal gain. He said this month that using money from a donor was appropriate and legal.

As well as Malaysia and Abu Dhabi, authorities in the U.S., Switzerland, Singapore, and Hong Kong are looking at 1MDB’s activities.

— Nicolas Parasie and Yantoultra Ngui contributed to this article.
Write to Bradley Hope at [email protected]

Originally published at

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Genuine Shenanigans: Can Adenan Explain? Maybe MACC Can!

Reproduced with permission

Cheap land for Taib-linked company — Adenan should explain!

Just weeks after Sarawak’s Chief Minister Adenan Satem came under pressure from environmental groups for remaining silent about peatland clearing by crony company BLD Plantation in Sibu, he now faces questions why he granted 3,000 hectares of land at a mere fraction of the market value to a Taib-linked company in 2014.

In a statement released by Padungan State Assemblyman, Wong King Wei from the Democratic Action Party (DAP) last week, Adenan was asked to explain why:
22 parcels of land located in Lundu, Sarawak, totaling 3,121.33 acres, were alienated to a single company, namely GENUINE FORMATION SDN. BHD. (Company No. 805567-K) at a mere total premium of RM882,176.00 or at about RM282.00 per acre on average.
With this condition of the land, it is reasonable to estimate that the land at that area is worth at least RM5,000 per acre. Yet the State Government is giving out the land not even at RM300 per acre.
In adding salt to wound, the total premium of RM882,176 payable by the said Genuine Formation Sdn Bhd need not have to be paid. The premium of RM882,176 is not collected by State Government as it is “part of payment in kind” vide Contract No. PWD/HO/B102/2000”. Thus the said Genuine Formation is enjoying double enrichment both in the value of the land and profit in the contract.
Thus, I demand for Chief Minister’s immediate explanation. Has he chosen to go back to the old path of his previous administration?

Land (in yellow) alienated to Genuine Formation in Lundu

So who owns Genuine Formation?

Veteran Sarawak watchers have viewed this transaction with weary recognition. The generous handouts of the Taib era were invariably made to members of his own family or his business and political cronies.

Given that Adenan has vowed to change the way Sarawak has been plundered by its own governors and to return law and order to the planning and forestry departments, all are interested to know who owns the remarkably fortunate Genuine Formation, who has benefitted from payments that should have been made into the public purse.

Land searches show that 22 parcels of land have been granted to Genuine Formation

Sadly, it seems nothing has changed in these respects.

The company Genuine Formation is registered at the address Level 9, Titanium Tower, Lot 1, Brighton Square, Jalan Song, Kuching.

Dedicated readers of our blog may well recognise that address as the office of Taib Mahmud’s son Mahmud Abu Bekir and his company Titanium Management. A company that Sarawak Report have previously exposed for being granted lucrative state contracts and even free state land totalling the size of Singapore.

Taib’s son Mahmud Abu Bekir has been granted a further 3,000 ha for “payment in kind”

Besides Titanium Management, we have also identified numerous other companies that received vast tracks of land which are clearly controlled by Mahmud and his business partners, the Chung family. These companies are operated out of the same offices and use the same telephone number as Titanium Management. Way back in 2011 we identified 14 such companies.

Scandalously, in each and every case, these lands have been handed to the companies under the category of so-called “Payment in Kind”. This is a polite way of saying that it has been given to Taib’s son for free and it looks as if the land given to Genuine Fortune was no different.

Registered at same address as Mahmud Bekir’s Titanium Management
Mahmud Bekir’s proxy Chung Soon Nam — 99% owner of the company
The real beneficiary of the Titanium companies — Mahmud Abu Bekir

Just last week, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) criticised such cronyism when it tabled its 2014 report in Parliament.

The report stated that based on investigations conducted, three top administrations in the Sarawak government have manipulated their power in granting land approvals. The report concluded that, absolute power without control could lead to power which could be “manipulated for personal and family gains by the minister.”
“The MACC’s investigation found that the manipulation of given power existed. The manipulation happened when an application by the family of a minister (with the power to grant land) was approved by another minister who also has the power to approve land application. Section 13(1) and 38 of the Sarawak Land Code grants absolute power to the minister in making decisions whether to approve any land application in the state”
It is a sorry state of affairs, given all the promises of reform once Taib was bumped upstairs.

In May, Adenan pronounced in a recorded speech in London that he was planning to restore Sarawak’s forests, curb further oil palm plantation, end corruption and stop gratuitous dam building.

Chung family residence in Kuching — getting rich of political contacts

Nevertheless, by August he was standing firmly behind Malaysia’s scandal engulfed Prime Minister Najib Razak and in September he rebutted corruption allegations against his notorious predecessor, Taib Mahmud.

Adenan may want the international community to believe that he is tackling the major issues affecting the state, but Radio Free Sarawak have been receiving locals calls, which contradict that narrative on a daily basis.

Broadcasts over the last couple of weeks alone have highlighted cases of violence and arrests of native land defenders, land grabbing and intimidation against opposition supporters. Just this week, opposition politician Nurul Izzah was barred from entering the state, a move which lawyers have condemned.
“Such a policy directly contravenes the freedom of movement guaranteed in Article 9 of the Federal Constitution, where every citizen of Malaysia has the right to move freely throughout the federation.” says Lawyers For Liberty’s Eric Paulsen.
To mark International Human Rights Day on Thursday, 500 representatives from various native rights groups gathered in Kuching to highlight what they see as the major issues affecting the state. These include the need for recognition of indigenous community conserve forest areas (Pulau Galau) and ancestral territories (Pemakai Menoa), making Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports available to all affected communities and to stop land grabbing and the abuse of state immigration powers.

The full list of the land that was granted to Genuine Formation Sdn Bhd can be found below:

Originally published at