Sometimes, Christmas comes early to Malaysia. Well, Christmas comes every day in Malaysia if you’re on the gravy train, really.
But what a couple of days it has been since Merdeka. First, newly-christened Minister of Obvious Abdul Rahman Dahlan became the first Umno minister to confirm that Malaysian Official 1 is none other than Prime Minister Najib Razak. And he told it to the BBC.
Of course, Rahman Dahlan also had an explanation of what he told to the BBC.
A day later, the Wall Street Journal which has been exposing the money-trail into MO1’s private account from July 2 last year, came out with a graphic to show how funds from three money-raising exercises went through various routes to end up in that same bank account.
So, it was Christmas or what?
But let’s get some of the more interesting bits from the WSJ before we figure out what is going on for the jet-setter prime minister cooling his heels in Malaysia while his deputy has to go to the US for official work.
The money was raised on three separate occasions and took three separate paths, sometimes flowing directly, while in other cases it split and took different routes, only to be reunited in the AmBank accounts according to the Justice Department complaint. The cash flowed through Singapore, Switzerland, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, the Seychelles, the British Virgin Islands and Curaçao. Other funds disappear, often into accounts controlled by other players in the scandal, the complaint said.
Interesting, the maze of ways that criss-crossed the globe just for the PM to get money into an account which he also used for private expenses.
Mr. Najib hasn’t acknowledged all of the transfers into his accounts, but he said that $681 million was a legal donation from the royal family of Saudi Arabia and the Malaysian attorney general agreed with that explanation, clearing him of any wrongdoing. Mr. Najib said he returned most of the funds to the Saudi Arabian donor. 1MDB has denied wrongdoing and said it would cooperate with any lawful international investigation.
Donation? That is the Malaysian government and Umno storyline, and has been since the news broke out last year.
HOW IT GOT TO MR. NAJIB’S ACCOUNTS
Of the $1.05 billion Mr. Najib received in his accounts, only $80 million appears to clearly originate with Saudi Arabia, via its Finance Ministry, though the details of that transfer are still unknown. Another $120 million that came via an intermediary based in Saudi Arabia are still under investigation, according to a person familiar with the U.S. investigation. At least $20 million of that $120 million has been traced clearly back to 1MDB by investigators. The remaining $850 million came via Tanore Finance and Blackstone Asia, and has been traced back to 1MDB by investigators, according to people familiar with the probe.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE MONEY
Mr. Najib used the money in his AmBank accounts for personal and political spending, according to investigative documents reviewed by the Journal that detail more than 500 transactions. He wrote checks to politicians in his political party and also paid millions of dollars for personal expenses, including $130,625 at a Chanel store in Hawaii and €750,000 at a jewelry store in Switzerland.
All this has happened because institutions in the country have been bent to his will, for him to do what he did brazenly. His party is a happy party as they are on the gravy train. And it is a personal gravy train, not for the party to win elections.
Merdeka just means they are free to loot and plunder without any checks from anyone else.