27 May 2018

Xavier Andre Justo, the 52-year-old whistle-blower, has alleged that an interview on the 1MDB controversy that he gave to The Straits Times in 2015 was scripted by Petro Saudi director Patrick Mahony and British private detective Paul Finnegan. He was also told not to bring up the name Jho Low.

It is not clear why Thai authorities allowed Patrick Mahony and Paul Finnegan to interfere in this case.

The Straits Times was picked for that interview, he said. Justo was told that his interview would secure him early release from Thai prison. The Edge Malaysia reported.

Mr Justo was an IT head at the London office of Petro Saudi, which ran an energy joint venture with 1MDB from 2009 to 2012.

The Edge agreed to pay Justo for the information on the 1MDB only to get the information but did not intend to pay him anything.

Justo leaked documents to Sarawak Report which in the end triggered a worldwide investigation into 1MDB.

That is history now. Since then Justo had met up with PM Mahathir and visited ant-corruption headquarters.

Mahathir government appointed Mohd Shukri Abdull as anti-graft chief. He had claimed in an emotional press conference that he and other senior investigators were offered bribes and threatened during the 2015 probe on 1MDB. He said he was followed by some people while he was in the United States and sought protection from friends in the New York Police Department. He said that several of his colleagues on the case were arrested. Mahathir government should investigate these claims thoroughly and bring to books the perpetrators of these criminal interference in the course of justice.

MACC chief’s statement could suggest his impartiality has been compromised as his investigations may be tempered the harassment he claimed to have experienced at the time of his investigations.

While the government can use Shukri’s prior knowledge in investigation the case, it should appoint an impartial person as the head of MACC, the anti-corruption agency. Not only justice must be done but it should also be seen to be done.

The homes of Baling MP Abdul Azeez Abdul was raided by the anti-corruption agency and they found RM900,000 in cash and 14 luxury watches. The cash consisted of RM500,000 (S$168,396) in Malaysian currency and another RM400,000 in other currencies, including US dollars, British pounds, euros, rupiah, Maldivian rufiyaa and Saudi riyal.

Abdul Azeez claimed that the watches were fake and that he bought them because they were nice. He said the money was withdrawn from the Baling UMNO account on Monday and was meant to be used for breaking fast events for the month and expenses for scheduled UMNO meetings. He also said that part of the funds was from Kelab Putera 1Malaysia which was meant for humanitarian assistance programme in Gaza and he is heading there.

This is just an example of abusing of party funds without proper accounting and controls. All expenses should be accounted with proper receipts and should be subject to proper audit.

 In another example we see UMNO seeking to recover party funds seized by police from residential units linked to former prime minister Najib Razak. UMNO did not disclose how much of its fund was with Najib. Probably because it does not have any records or evidence to make a claim. 

It is a bad practice in UMNO to transfer money to individuals without proper records and due diligence.

It is widely believed that Abdul Azeez was the “MP from the north” known as “Cash King” who tried to ask the MACC to stop the investigations into 1Malaysia Development Berhad and SRC International, as revealed by MACC Chief Commissioner Mohd Shukri Abdull.

Abdul Azeez was also accused of allegedly receiving RM19mil to close the corruption probe on RM6.34bil Penang undersea tunnel project. Azeez denied allegations that he had received RM3 million from Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd, the company undertaking the feasibility study on the undersea tunnel project.

In a strongly worded statement Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng called 1MDB director Arul Kanda “utterly dishonest and untrustworthy”. He is believed to be the only employee in 1MDB.

PM Mahathir said the he would holler if he needed Singapore’s help in 1MDB probe.

The Singapore Monetary Authority has fined eight banks and shut down Swiss private banks BSI and Falcon in Singapore, jailing several, after its own probe into 1MDB. The Singaporean Commercial Affairs Department and the Monetary Authority of Singapore said they were prepared to help Malaysian authorities with the investigation.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng stated that Malaysian debt stood at $250 billion raising the prospect of a credit rating downgrade. Of this $170 billion is the actual debt. The balance are contingent liabilities arising out of government guarantees and commitments for lease payments for projects under public-private partnerships. The total debt is well within the means available to the government to service.

Najib Razak could have saved all the troubles for himself if he had returned  the money when the news leaked that $780 million was transferred to his personal account. His silence led to investigations by some 10 jurisdictions. The supreme council of UMNO also should take some blame for having failed to speak up when the news was first leaked. It is true that some UMNO members who spoke up (e.g. Muhyiddin Yassin and Shafie Apdal) were kicked out of the government.