Najib Razak arrested amid 1MDB probe

(03-07-2018)

Najib Abdul Razak, the former Malaysian prime minister, has been arrested for his alleged role in the 1MDB scandal, in which billions were embezzled from a government fund. He was arrested at his residence in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur, this afternoon, according to MACC chief commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull. The arrest was carried out in relation to the commission’s investigation into the SRC International issue.

Najib Abdul Razak will be charged in court tomorrow morning, according to a statement from the team investigating 1MDB. The former prime minster was picked up from his property using three unmarked cars and taken to the Malaysian anti-corruption agency (MACC) headquarters in Putrajaya where he will be held overnight. Shukri Abdul told the media that the arrest took place at 3pm and the former premier has been taken to the commission’s headquarters in Putrajaya for further questioning. Previously, MACC had recorded Najib’s statement twice with regard to the SRC International issue. Last Friday, Malaysiakini had reported that there is a strong likelihood the former premier would be arrested this week. A witness at the MACC headquarters told Malaysiakini that Najib was brought in a red Proton Inspira, and taken straight to the lock-up. The arrest came as the MACC grilled Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz over the 1MDB scandal. The newly elected government, led by 92-year-old Mahathir Mohamad, reopened the investigation into 1MDB the moment it came into power in May and pledged to bring to justice all of those responsible for the multibillion dollar fraud. Najib is being investigated over the RM2.6 billion found in his accounts, as well as alleged fraud involving SRC International funds.

The 1MDB scandal, described as the biggest corruption scandal in Malaysian history, involved billions of dollars being embezzled from a government fund and fraudulently spent around the world. $681m (£516m) of 1MDB money went into Najib’s personal bank account, where it is alleged it was used to fund the lavish spending habits of Najib and his wife. In the US, the Department of Justice is seeking to seize $1.7bn in real estate, art works, yachts, and luxury goods allegedly bought with misappropriated 1MDB money. He has denied any wrongdoing in the case where funds from the former 1Malaysia Development Bhd unit were found in his personal bank accounts. He reiterated his innocence in an interview last week, saying: “If I knew there was going to be misappropriation of funds, if that was my knowledge, I would have acted.”

According to figures in the finance ministry, 1MDB’s losses total $10bn. Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz was also questioned by MACC on Tuesday over allegedly misappropriating 1MDB money to fund the Martin Scorsese film The Wolf of Wall Street. Aziz, who owns a film production company, denies any wrongdoing but in March it was revealed that his company agreed to pay the US government $60m to settle a civil lawsuit that sought to seize assets purchased with money allegedly stolen from 1MDB. Najib and his wife, Rosmah Mansor, have given statements to the MACC over 1MDB. As part of the investigation the police carried out raids on their homes, in which jewellery, handbags and watches worth up to $273m, and $29m in cash were seized. The couple maintain the luxury goods were gifts and that the cash was election funds.

On May 22 and 24, Najib was grilled by MACC for a total of 11 hours. His wife, Rosmah Mansor, was questioned on June 5 for about five hours. Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, was the next family member to be summoned, in relation to 1MDB. Following Pakatan Harapan’s capture of Putrajaya, the authorities have reopened investigations into SRC International and 1MDB. The reopening of high-profile cases was part of PH’s “first 100 days in power” election promises.

UMNO First Election as the Opposition Party

(30-06-2018)

As Umno heads into its first election as an Opposition party, the party’s presidential candidates today outlined their plans for the next three years. Umno presidential candidate, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi, who is also acting president after the resignation of Najib Razak as President, said he wants to move Umno forward in what he dubbed, a “New Deal” for party members while maintaining the party’s status quo.

“We want to rejuvenate Umno into Umno 3.0, but at the same time, rebrand Barisan Nasional (BN) into a new coalition. “The party needs to return to its foundation and strengthen its spirit in fighting for Malay special rights, the royal institution, Bahasa Melayu and religion,” he said during a “live” debate between the Umno presidential candidates hosted by Astro Awani. As for Umno veteran leader Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, he outlined the need for the party to change within three years should he be appointed party president. “For the past 20 years, Umno’s top leadership has been controlled by a select few until those underneath cannot voice their opinion. “We want the voice of the people down below to influence the voice of the people sitting on top,” he said.

In contrast to the other two candidates, Khairy Jamaluddin apologised and admitted the mistakes of the party’s leadership for their GE14 defeat. “We must make do with the insulated president culture and immediate action must be taken to attract new young talents to Umno so that we can prepare ourselves for a generation shift in the party,” he said. Khairy Jamaluddin does not discount the possibility that he would invite other parties to join Barisan Nasional or form collaborations with civil society organisations to rebuild the party if he wins in the Umno elections tomorrow. He said this was one of the ways to restructure BN following its disastrous showing at the 14th general election recently. “If I win, I will sit down with MIC and MCA, because these are the only parties we have, to come up with a new formula for BN. “The BN (component) parties are waiting for the results tomorrow to see who will become Umno president before they make a decision,” he said after attending a gathering in Alor Star today.

Following BN’s loss in GE14, its component parties, including those in Sabah and Sarawak, left the coalition, with the latest being Gerakan, which announced it was leaving last Saturday.

Never Mind the BIRKINS, Now’s the BIJAN

(29-06-2018)

What is the fuss about BIJAN? Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor can be said to be a connoisseur when it comes to handbags, as can be seen from the brands she chooses for her favourite arm accessory. After all, it was through her that Malaysians have been educated on the value of a Birkin bag by French fashion house Hermes. But public interest has now shifted to another new handbag brand, the custom-made Bijan.

Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Commissioner Datuk Seri Amar Singh had earlier today announced that several Bijan bags were among the stash of high end goods seized last month from properties in the Klang Valley linked to Rosmah’s husband and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Amar estimated the Bijan bags alone to be worth RM1.6 million. Bijan? What is that? So Birkin and Hermes, move aside! Malaysian is now talking about Bijan all the way. What is it, and what makes it so unique? Some Malaysians have noticed that Bijan is an anagram for Najib, that Bijan spells out as N-A-J-I-B in reverse, many netizens were also quick to question and have suggested, jokingly, that the brand could even be his own, or that he might have some stake in it.
So what is actually a Bijan and where does it come from? The House of Bijan belongs to Iranian designer Bijan Pakzad. Several publications have described it as “the world’s most expensive store”. Pakzad migrated to the United States in 1973, before setting up an exclusive boutique on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California three years later. A Huffington Post article listed down Barack Obama, George and George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Prince Charles, Pierce Brosnan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Hugh Hefner and Monaco’s Prince Rainier among its star-studded client list. The report said one must need an appointment before even entering the store, which has since been sold in 2016 to luxury group LVMH — which owns, among others, Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Hublot. The store sells clothing and fragrances, and as evident by its distinguished clients mostly for men.

The Most Expensive Journal blog site, which writes on luxury items, puts the price of a tie at US$1,200 (RM4,832) and custom-made suits at US$25,000. Huffington Post said the store did not produce its accessories and clothes in big numbers, “just a handful at the most” from quality fabrics and materials, to maintain the brand’s exclusivity. A lower-level Bijan crocodile clutch purse costs about US$10,000 (RM40,318). But, its diamond-encrusted Bijan bags are likely to set buyers back by six figures or more. A custom-made bag by Bijan, which considers itself ‘the world’s most expensive store,’ was one of the 567 luxury handbags seized by the police in their 1MDB probe. The Bijan bag police revealed today was custom-made and not available on the market, Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Amar Singh Ishar Singh had said. So perhaps the bag was Najib’s instead of Rosmah? Perhaps, but perhaps not. Bijan also has a collection of alligator handbags for ladies in an assortment of bright colours that Rosmah appears to be fond of, apart from her love of jewellery.

Los Angeles has been named as one of the places Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor was known to shop at in news reports about investigations into funds allegedly stolen from state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad. On New Year’s Eve in 2013, there was speculation among some Malaysian bloggers that she and Najib had completed a trip to Los Angeles and were headed to Sydney to usher in 2014.

Summary of the works done in 14 days under Tun M leadership

(27-06-2018)

Day 1 (Friday May 11): The work begins. Dr Mahathir arrives at 9.35am for discussions with PH leaders on a new Cabinet. Dr Mahathir: Agong says willing to grant Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim a full pardon. Dr Mahathir: There will be a probe on the Attorney-General, Election Commission, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. Certain heads must roll. Umno celebrates 72nd anniversary in sombre mood, news emerge of ex-PM Datuk Seri Najib Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor’s planned flight to Indonesia.

Day 2 (Saturday May 12): Flight cancelled, resignation, Council of Elders, handbag stash condo. Najib confirms short trip, but flight cancelled and later he and Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor are put on travel blacklist. Police report lodged on alleged bid to hide Rosmah’s handbags at a condominium. Najib quits position as head of Umno, Barisan Nasional. Dr Mahathir announces three ministers – home, defence and finance. Dr Mahathir announces five-person Council of Elders (later known as Council of Eminent Persons) to advise PH govt on finance, economy. Members include Tun Daim Zainuddin and Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz. Dr Mahathir: Auditor-general’s report on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) will be declassified. Attorney-General position declared vacant, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali declines comment. Police visits Najib-linked condominium with alleged handbag stash to view CCTV footage.

Day 3 (Sunday May 13): Council begins work too. Police sets up cordon around Najib’s private home. No honeymoon for Council of Eminent Persons with daily meetings. Meets six GLICs heads: Khazanah Nasional, PNB, KWAP, EPF, Tabung Haji, LTAT. By May 18, Daim said Council has met 50 people in 40 meetings in six days. Day 4 (Monday May 14): Spring-cleaning day, but keep documents safe. MACC chief Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad resigns as MACC chief, to return to Attorney-General’s Chambers. Treasury’s secretary-general Tan Sri Irwan Serigar Abdullah relieved of duties; on contract till March 2019 but it will be cut short to June 14, 2018. AG Apandi clocks in for work, but put on indefinite leave. Solicitor-General replaces his role. Dr Mahathir tells Finance Ministry to look for budget savings and spending cuts. Dr Mahathir meets chief secretary to government, secretary-generals of all ministries. Dr Mahathir: RCI on 1MDB after concrete charges, instructed all ministries not to bring out or destroy any documents.

Day 5 (Tuesday May 15) : 1MDB report no more a secret, institutional reforms coming. Police escorts for Najib, former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi transferred out. Apandi says on unrecorded 30-day leave. Auditor-General declassifies audit report on 1MDB. (Read here and here to find out what was in the report classified in 2016). Swiss authorities seek quick talks with Malaysia on 1MDB. Council of Eminent Persons forms Institutional Reforms Committee with members including former Malaysian Bar president Datuk Seri Ambiga Sreenevasan and former Court of Appeal judges, says economic reforms must come with institutional reforms. Dr Mahathir says will stay on as PM for one to two years. Day 6 (Wednesday May 16): Anwar is back, zero GST, stable fuel price, 17,000 political appointees to be axed, PH registered, Najib house raided.

Anwar is released ahead of initial June 8 date, says no timeframe to succeed as PM. Council of Eminent Persons meets with Irwan on 1MDB, Dr Mahathir says Irwan will be investigated by the book. Dr Mahathir: 1MDB-related wrongdoing larger than thought, ex-AG Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said about to prosecute over 1MDB when removed from post. Government will pay 1MDB-linked debts, recover 1MDB assets from other countries. Dr Mahathir says 17,000 political appointees in government to be removed/ reviewed. Finance ministry announces Goods and Services Tax (GST) at zero rate from June 1. After seven weeks of no change in fuel price, Dr Mahathir says no more weekly new price. Government will subsidise fuel price when needed. Pakatan Harapan finally gets registered by Registrar of Societies. Police raid Najib’s private house. (First night of raid unearths 52 luxury handbags, watches and over half a million ringgit in cash.)

Day 7 (Thursday May 17): New 1MDB taskforce, SST will return, Najib-linked condos raided. Raid at Najib’s private house continues, police try to crack 20-year-old safe (Read here for what was discovered in the safe). Finance ministry: Sales and Services Tax (SST) will be back, government to cut spending. Dr Mahathir takes on education minister role (but gives it up the next day), deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail gets Women and Family Development Ministry. Not in government, but Anwar joins PH’s presidential council to be top six. Home Ministry’s secretary-general: Dr Mahathir’s party PPBM registered by RoS. Council of Eminent Persons sets up committee to look into 1MDB. To be headed by former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman. MACC gets former deputy Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull as new chief. Police raid Najib-linked condominiums, seize 284 luxury handbags including Birkin bags and 72 suitcases of cash, watches and jewellery.

Day 8 (Friday May 18): The police team conducting searches at properties linked to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak have been reinforced with another team which specifically focuses on cases involving the Anti-Money Laundering Act. Council of Eminent Persons member Tun Daim Zainuddin revealed that the East Coast Rail Line project costs over RM66 billion. Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was summoned to meet Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers on Tuesday (May 22) as part of 1MDB probe. The Communications and Multimedia Commission unblocked Sarawak Report and Medium since the 1MDB report has been made public. A group of tahfiz students from the Tahfiz Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah school where 23 pupils were killed in a fire last September broke their fast at Najib’s residence to “offer moral support and sympathy”.

Day 9 (Saturday May 19): In an exclusive interview with the Malay Mail, Najib spoke up for the first time since losing GE14, where he chided Khairy Jamaluddin and other BN leaders for not speaking up earlier if they felt there were issues with his leadership within the coalition and government. During the same interview he urged voters to hold the new PH government accountable, claiming their promises were ‘in the realm of fantasy’. He also added he had been unfairly ‘demonised’ during the GE14 campaigning period. Commercial Crime Investigation Department director Commissioner Datuk Seri Amar Singh Ishar Singh urged Najib’s lawyer to provide more information on the claims that police officers who searched his client’s properties ate their chocolate and demanded more. In a continuation of the Malay Mail exclusive, Najib says the rule of law must be applied equally to everyone, including prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Incumbent Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority chairman Datuk Seri Bung Mokhtar Radin announced he will step down from his post by the end of the month.

Day 10 (Sunday May 20): Former Special Branch deputy director Datuk Abdul Hamid Bador, who was relieved of duty after criticising the Barisan Nasional government’s handling of the 1MDB investigations, has been tipped to take over from the incumbent director Datuk Seri Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff. – Speaking to supporters in his constituency of Pekan, Pahang, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak claimed he lost due to unappreciative voters who believed the slander of his rivals against him. Former MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the party’s future is in critical condition, yet still unable to understand what went wrong. Pakatan Harapan de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim says investigations into Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over the SRC International Sdn Bhd case will be conducted in a fair and independent manner.

Day 11 (Monday May 21): Anwar reassures the Malay community that they do not have to worry about losing the benefits enjoyed under BN’s six-decade administration. Perak’s 10 new excos begin their first day of work at the State Secretariat in Ipoh. Selangor Sultan allows Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali to join federal Cabinet as long as he remains until a successor is found. Former Penang Chief Minister to file representation to Attorney-General’s Chambers for the corruption charges against him to be dropped. The Wall Street Journal reports that PH’s fresh investigation into 1MDB scandal has ‘energised‘ the United States’ Department of Justice to look for Low Taek Jho. Mohd Shukri Abdull clocked in as new MACC chief commissioner. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad blames Malaysia’s RM1 trillion debt on previous administration. Melaka Chief Minister Adly Zahari says state government will restructure its civil service to ensure effectiveness of its agencies’ services. Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said Anti-Fake News Bill to be repealed soon.

Day 12 (Tuesday May 22): Dr Mahathir says non-performing Cabinet ministers will be dropped and replaced by other more qualified parliamentarians. Najib parts ways with legal team in surprise twist, ahead of MACC meeting. Azmin, the new Minister for Economic Affairs, aims to revive Malaysia’s economy and make it attractive again for investors. Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu clocks into first day of work, vows an internal probe into the ministry’s past scandals. Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail starts work as Deputy Prime Minister. Lim Guan Eng takes office as new Finance Minister despite doubts over country’s budget. Mohd Shukri reveals in emotional press conference how he was threatened when probing into 1MDB case back in 2015. 1MDB task force set out to recover money and assets. Najib drops 1MDB defamation suit against former MCA president and Transport Minister Tun Ling Liong Sik. Red Shirt movement leader Datuk Seri Jamal Yunos arrested for brandishing a firearm in public space.

Day 13 (Wednesday May 23): Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir chairs his first Cabinet meeting. He also cuts its members’ salaries by 10 per cent. MACC raids Lembaga Tabung Haji chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim’s home and office. He later says he will soon resign from the post. Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg confirms Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown is still banned from entering the state. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir terminates several agencies including the Land Public Transport Commission and the Special Affairs Department as part of apparent austerity measures to rein in RM1 trillion debt. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir says some projects will be aborted or reconsidered as part of move to reduce RM1 trillion debt. However fuel prices will not be raised for the time being.

Day 14 (Thursday May 24): Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak leaves Langgak Duta residence for second MACC interview in Putrajaya. DAP’s Tony Pua and Ong Kian Ming appointed as unpaid special officers to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for next six months. Tabung Haji confirms Abdul Azeez no longer chairman. MACC likewise confirms it is probing the entity. Tun Dr Mahathir to visit Japan in June for annual Nikkei Conference and to strengthen bilateral ties. Terengganu Pakatan Harapan chairman Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad says Pakatan Harapan is ready to work with PAS-led state government to rebuild the state. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng says federal government will honour payments for 1MDB debt due on May 30. Abang Johari thanks Anwar for assuring that PH will restore Sarawak’s rights the Malaysia Agreement 1963. Umno demands return of ‘party funds’ seized by cops in raid at Najib’s residence. Azmin Ali says new Selangor Mentri Besar to be known after Hari Raya Aidilfitri.

Kediaman Najib jadi tumpuan sekali lagi

(26-06-2018)

Kediaman bekas perdana menteri Najib Razak kembali menjadi tumpuan apabila petugas media petang hari ini menerima maklumat bahawa satu serbuan mungkin akan dijalankan oleh pihak berkuasa. Ramai wartawan mula berkumpul di Jalan Langgak Duta kerana terdapat ura-ura bekas perdana menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak akan ditangkap di kediaman peribadinya. Lebih kurang 30 orang wartawan dan jurugambar bersiap sedia di Jalan Langgak Duta, Kuala Lumpur untuk menanti sekiranya terdapat sebarang operasi. Mereka kelihatan berjaga-jaga di persimpangan berhampiran rumah Najib yang dihalang daripada dimasuki dengan garisan polis berwarna kuning.

Empat anggota polis dipercayai daripada Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah (IPD) Sentul juga dilihat berjaga di pintu masuk tetapi ini merupakan pemandangan biasa semenjak BN yang dipimpin Najib dikalahkan pada PRU14 bulan lalu. Kenderaan membawa Najib dilihat meninggalkan kediaman pukul 6.15 petang ke destinasi yang tidak dapat dipastikan. Najib kembali ke rumahnya pada jam 9.35 malam dan tiada sebarang serbuan pihak berkuasa dijalankan sehingga waktu itu. Bagaimanapun, setakat jam 9 malam tadi tidak ternampak kenderaan polis mahupun pelawat yang memasuki atau datang dari rumah Najib. Beberapa orang pemberita berkata, mereka telah diminta untuk bersiap sedia di Langgak Duta disebabkan para penyiasat akan menyiapkan siasatan ke atas skandal 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) dan pihak berkuasa dijangka menangkap Najib dalam masa terdekat. Sumber Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) ketika dihubungi berkata beliau tidak mengetahui jika pasukannya membuat sebarang operasi ke rumah Najib hari ini.

“Mungkin maklumat yang diterima (media) itu tidak benar,” kata beliau ketika ditanya. Perkara sama turut dinyatakan Pengarah Jabatan Siasatan Jenayah Komersial Bukit Aman, Datuk Seri Amar Singh Ishar Singh yang berpendapat, media mungkin mendapat maklumat tidak benar. “Saya tidak tahu. Di pihak (JSJK) saya, tiada apa-apa tindakan malam ini, sila semak dengan pihak lain,” kata beliau ketika dihubungi pihak media yang menunggu. Najib, 64, kini berdepan siasatan pihak berkuasa berhubung penyelewengan dana daripada SRC International, salah sebuah bekas anak syarikat 1MDB. Pihak berkuasa Malaysia kini dijangka mendakwa Najib dengan tuduhan pengubahan wang haram setelah laporan terdapat jutaan ringgit dimasukkan ke akaun peribadinya menerusi dana SRC. Najib secara konsisten menafikan penglibatan beliau dengan perkara itu. Parti Barisan Nasional pimpinan Najib, kalah pilihan raya umum 9 Mei selepas 60 tahun membentuk kerajaan.

Mengikut laporan Reuters pada 19 Jun yang lalu, Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad berkata pasukan penyiasat kini ‘memiliki kes yang hampir sempurna’ terhadap suspek utama skandal 1MDB. Perdana Menteri Dr Mahathir Mohamad juga telah berjanji akan menghukum pesalah yang berkaitan penyelewengan 1MDB.– 26 Jun, 2018