AG sets up task force to probe 1MDB, says top cop

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KUALA LUMPUR: Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has confirmed that the police are investigating the debt-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), with a new task force formed to probe the strategic investment company.

He said the task force, set up several days ago by the Attorney-General (AG), included the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the AG’s Chambers and the police. “We are part of the task force set up by the AG. We are investigating those reports lodged,” he said yesterday.

He said investigations into 1MDB began the moment reports were lodged with the police.

When asked whether Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is among those being investigated, Khalid said: “Yes”.

“Every report lodged, we will open investigation. When there is an offence committed, we will proceed with an investigation. But when there is no offence, we will refer to the AG to close investigation. In this case, we are cooperating with MACC and the AG’s Chambers, but no decision has been made so far.” He added the matter was being investigated for cheating and criminal breach of trust.

Earlier yesterday, the MACC said it would initiate investigations once the Auditor-General’s Department has completed its audit of the company.

Chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed said MACC has to wait for due process to be completed before it can move on with its investigations, provided that the Auditor-General’s Department and the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) find a case for it to pursue.

“The auditors will go in first, conduct checks, and then present the findings to the PAC. If there is a case, they will bring it to the relevant authorities,” Abu Kassim said yesterday, after launching the integrity pledge signing ceremony at Puspakom in Shah Alam.

When asked for the latest developments in the investigations into  1MDB, he declined to comment. “I’m not advised to say anything. Let the process finish first,” he said.

1MDB has been dogged by controversy over its debt portfolio, which has reached a staggering RM42 billion, as well as allegations of financial mismanagement. Last week, whistleblower site Sarawak Report’s exposés prompted opposition politicians, former Umno leaders and anti-graft bodies to demand a thorough investigation into 1MDB, and piled pressure on Najib, who is also the finance minister and chairs the 1MDB advisory board.

Last Wednesday, Najib had ordered the Auditor-General to “independently verify 1MDB’s accounts”, with the findings to be passed to the  bipartisan parliamentary PAC. “If any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception,” Najib had said in a statement released by his office.

Separately, PKR said Sarawak Report’s recent exposes on 1MDB have provided enough evidence for Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and ex-1MDB chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Shahrol Halmi to be charged under two laws.

PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli said Najib was also liable, adding that he would be lodging a police report against all three today at the Dang Wangi police station here.

Rafizi said the leaked PetroSaudi International Ltd email correspondence was enough to charge Low and Shahrol with criminal breach of trust and violating the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001. However, he did not specify what Najib should be investigated for.

“It is shocking that in his communication with PetroSaudi (International Ltd), Jho Low daringly said that the transfer of funds from 1MDB to PetroSaudi did not need the approval of Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), which clearly goes against the Anti-Money Laundering Act,” said Rafizi in a statement yesterday.

“This strengthens my earlier statement that Jho Low and former 1MDB CEO Datuk Shahrol Halmi are proven to have violated the Anti-Money Laundering Act as they did not state who was the final recipient of the money, as revealed in the emails released by Sarawak Report.”

Rafizi was referring to Sarawak Report’s article on Sunday, which claimed Low had attempted to bypass BNM in his bid to speed up 1MDB’s US$500 million loan to PetroSaudi in 2010.— The Malaysian Insider

 

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 10, 2015.