Weekly Highlights

Parliament should not recognise Najib’s appointment as BNBBC chair.

Parliament should not recognise former Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s appointment as BNBBC chair as it would plunge the Malaysian Parliament into a new shame and infamy.

Najib’s appointment is  doubly  shocking and  shameful –  proof that public integrity and anti-corruption are furthest from the principles and vision of  UMNO, MCA and MIC.

What makes the appointment doubly shocking and shameful is that it came three months after the July 28 conviction and sentence of Najib Razak to 12 years jail and fines of  RM210 million for corruption, money-laundering and abuse of power charges in connection with the RM42 million SRC-1MDB  case, and a week after Goldman Sachs pleaded guilty  in the United States to  violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars U.S. companies from paying bribes to government officials abroad.

In making an announcement of “historic significance” over the Goldman Sachs case,  the US Department of Justice spokesman referred to Goldman Sach’s central role in “a massive global scheme to loot billions of dollars” from the government-run 1MDB and the subsequent use of those funds by senior Goldman bankers and their co-conspirators to pay billions of dollars in bribes to senior government officials and others around the world.

The Goldman Sachs Group entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice deferring prosecution for three years provided the bank meets certain conditions.  

The DOJ spokesman said: “In a reflection of the seriousness of the bank’s conduct, today’s resolution includes the largest monetary penalty ever paid to the United States in a corporate criminal foreign bribery resolution and requires the bank to pay a total of over 2.9 billion dollars in criminal fines, penalties, and disgorgement. 

“1MDB was a multi-billion-dollar investment fund created by the Malaysian government to promote economic development.  In 2012 and 2013, Goldman received approximately $600 million in fees — an unusually large amount — for its work helping 1MDB raise $6.5 billion by issuing and selling bonds on international markets, and for other services.

“However, billions of dollars were later stolen from 1MDB, some of which was then used to bribe corrupt officials from Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.   These criminal proceeds were laundered through U.S. and other financial institutions and used to make extravagant purchases around the world, including high-end real estate, yachts, art, and other luxury goods.

“As the bank admitted today, senior Goldman bankers played a central role in this scheme, conspiring with others to siphon over $2.7 billion from 1MDB.  They used those funds to line their own pockets and to pay $1.6 billion in bribes.  In addition to the involvement of several Goldman executives, other personnel at the bank allowed this scheme to proceed by overlooking or ignoring clear red flags.”

The DoJ spokesman further said: “The 1MDB fund held tremendous promise for the Malaysian people.  But instead of realizing that promise, it was looted by corrupt officials and their co-conspirators, including senior Goldman bankers.  This criminal conduct is antithetical to good government.  It hurts free markets, undermines the rule of law, creates an unlevel playing field, and puts our national security at risk by enabling corrupt regimes.  It also erodes global confidence in our American financial institutions and the U.S. financial system. 

“Today’s resolution, coupled with other actions the department has taken over the last five years, represents a major step towards restoring that confidence and making the people of Malaysia whole.   It imposes serious consequences on Goldman for the bank’s serious misconduct.”    

Najib faces 42 counts of corruption and money laundering charges  connected to the 1MDB financial scandal.

He is regarded by US government  as the chief looter in the 1MDB financial scandal – Malaysian Official 1 (MO1) – and Malaysia expects the US Government to return  a major portion of the US4.5 billion misappropriated from 1MDB, having received so far US$620 million from the US government.

Najib’s appointment as BNBBC Chairman and Parliament’s recognition of this appointment is completely antithetical to the task of “making the people of Malaysia whole”.

Members of Parliament from both sides of the House should heed the judgment of High Court judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali who characterised the conviction of Najib last July 28 as the worst case of abuse of position.

“What this court seeks to affirm is the sanctity of the rule of law and the supremacy of the Constitution. No one – not even one who was the most powerful political figure and the leader of the country enjoys a cloak of invincibility from the force of the law. Any notion to such effect is the very antithesis to the Article 8 of the Constitution that enshrines that rule that all persons all equal before the law.” – High Court judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali

In a 500 plus page written judgment, the judge said while Najib had made contributions to the well-being and the people’s betterment in many different ways, the court would let political history to debate whether the former premier of nine years had done on balance more good than harm.

He said: “This very process (the long trial) would arguably be inimical to the ideals (of the nation) of a clean administration that does not tolerate corruption and abuse of power.

Commenting on Najib’s ascension to the pinnacle of the country’s leadership, he said he had seen citizens place the former premier in a position of trust in our system of constitutional democracy.

However, his conviction, Nazlan said of all seven charges concerning abuse of position, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and money laundering constitutes nothing less than “an absolute betrayal of that trust”.

“For this reason, I consider the conviction of the accused for abuse of position under Section 23 of the MACC Act as the most serious transgression amongst the three given his position of trust as the nation’s Prime Minister and Finance Minister when the offences were committed.

“I would not hesitate to find that this case can be characterised as one that falls within the range of the worst kind of abuse of position, of CBT and of money laundering because not only of how the crimes were committed, but more importantly also it involved a huge sum of RM42 million, had an element of public impact as the RM42 million belonged to an MOF Inc. company.”

“Perhaps most importantly, it involved the person who at the material time was in the highest ranking authority in the government,” Justice Nazlan said.

Justice Nazlan also found the former premier not to be remorseful over the charges he (Najib) was facing.

“The accused did not express any remorse and even maintains his defence of no knowledge of the RM42 million from SRC in his mitigation speech. Yet I cannot deny he was the Prime Minister of the country.”

“The use of that property by others can never be justified under any circumstances. This is immutable and cannot be obfuscated by any diversions that the certain portions of the monies out of the RM42 million were expended for charitable purposes.

“There is quite simply no virtue in donating what one does not own. SRC International Sdn Bhd was established to spearhead the promotion of alternative energy resources for the country. The recipients of the spending by the accused are many and various but unmistakably for the accused’s own purposes and benefits.”

I rest my case.

Lim Kit Siang

MP for Iskandar Puteri

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