Set up commission of inquiry to probe mind-boggling revelations by Justice Department

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Aliran is astounded by the latest revelations arising from the US Department of Justice into its probe on funds from 1MDB.

The scale of the funds involved, as outlined in its “Verified Complaint for Forfeiture”, is mind-boggling.

The Justice Department claims that the “total identified stolen proceeds” in this “multi-year, multi-billion-dollar fraud scheme” amounts to a staggering US$4.5bn. This would be about RM19bn using the current exchange rate.

It is the “largest action brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. Assets now subject to forfeiture in this case total almost $1.7 billion” [over RM7bn].

As acting US Attorney Sandra R Brown said, “These cases involve billions of dollars that should have been used to help the people of Malaysia, but instead was used by a small number of individuals to fuel their astonishing greed.”

The misappropriation of 1MDB funds was accomplished with an extravagant web of lies and bogus transactions that were brought to light by the investigating team, she added.

The Complaint of Forfeiture describes in meticulous the sources of the funds for many of the assets acquired. Each assets in the list bears sub-headings such as “diverted” or “misappropriated” from specific bank loans or bond proceeds.

The breathtaking scale of this alleged misappropriation suggests a failure of epic proportions on the part of the institutions responsible for checks and balances in governance.

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In view of the seriousness of the allegations, a royal commission of inquiry, comprising individuals of high integrity, must be set up to examine the real state of affairs in 1MDB, including the apparent oversight failures and conflicts of interest involving key personalities.

The commission should draw upon the work already done by the Public Accounts Committeemake public. It should make make public both the Malaysian attorney general’s report on 1MDB, which is now classified under the Official Secrets Act, and the findings of high-profile task force on 1MDB.

The commission of inquiry should also probe the circumstances surrounding the disbanding of the task force, the departure of the previous attorney general and the shake-up of the top leadership of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. It should also assess the failure of the various institutions in allowing such a situation to develop unchecked.

In the meantime, the prime minister, who is also finance minister, must step down while his role in the whole case is examined by the proposed royal commission.

Aliran executive committee
16 June 2017

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