Zeti Akhtar Aziz

15 March 2021

Malaysian police said they were investigating the husband of the country’s former central bank head for allegedly receiving funds linked to 1MDB. Datuk Dr. Tawfiq Ayman, the husband of former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, is being investigated over the alleged transfer of 1MDB-linked funds into a bank account of Iron Rhapsody Ltd in Singapore. The beneficial owners of this company are Tawfiq and his son Ayman.

The Edge Weekly reported that Iron Rhapsody had received US$16.22 million (RM65.71 million) from companies/bank accounts of fugitive financier Low Taek Jho in five separate transactions. The money was received in 2008 and 2009 but Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) of the Singapore Police Force informed BNM of suspicious transactions involving a UBS bank account belonging to Iron Rhapsody Ltd in 2015 and 2016.

It is not clear why the US$16.22 million was paid to Dr. Tawfiq Ayman’s company. Was it to silence his wife BNM governor Zeti? Or did Dr. Tawfiq Ayman provide other services to Jo Low?

Former Prime Minister Najib in his Facebook page claimed that it was Zeti Akhtar Aziz who recommended to him to open a bank account in his own name to receive the Arab donation. He also asked her to monitor his account for any suspicious transactions.

In July 2018, Zeti claimed that she had no knowledge of the RM2.6 billion paid into Najib’s account.

Zeti’s husband and sons had agreed to a settlement with the Singapore government to return the money in their accounts to 1MDB in return for Singapore dropping charges against them.

According to the MalaysiaToday report, the money in the accounts came from Iron Rhapsody Ltd, which was established to receive money from Jho Low. The registered owners of Iron Rhapsody are allegedly Zeti’s husband and her two sons.

According to The Edge Markets, Dr. Tawfiq Ayman was a partner in the firm Abu Dhabi Kuwait Malaysia Investment Corp (ADKMIC) which was set up by Jo Low in July 2007. Edge Markets said that BSI banker Yak Yew Chee told Commercial Affairs of Singapore that when ADKMIC was incorporated (July 17, 2007), there were six to seven shareholders, including Jho Low and Datuk Tawfiq Ayman.

According to The Edge, Jho Low used money infused by 1MDB in PetroSaudi to effectively buy out Utama Banking Group (UBG Bank), allegedly allowing former Sarawak chief minister Taib Mahmud and his family to make RM465 million. This was done to please the former Chief Minister as he was angry that Jho Low made RM 400 million by flipping stakes in lands at a time when both were working as a team.