PAKATAN Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad has highlighted Utusan Malaysia’s attempt to play down the 1Malaysian Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal, which the US attorney general called kleptocracy at its worst, in a blog post this morning.
He compared the Umno-owned Malay daily’s report yesterday on no action being taken against 1MDB with US Attorney General Jefferson Sessions’ recent remark that 1MDB was “kleptocracy at its worst”.
Quoting US lawyer Tom Goldstein, Utusan Malaysia reported that no action was being taken against 1MDB in the US, except on assets claimed to be acquired via 1MDB funds.
“Until now, there are only a few activities related to the case and no one has been named as a criminal target,” Goldstein was quoted as saying during a speech on criminal litigation at Universiti Teknologi Mara in Shah Alam yesterday.
Dr Mahathir highlighted the discrepancy by quoting Sessions’ speech on 1MDB at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery at Washington DC in his post.
Sessions had said nearly half of the US$3.5 billion (RM14.2 billion) in corruption proceeds the US had frozen were related to enforcement action on 1MDB.
“1MDB was created by the Malaysian government to promote long-term economic development for the benefit of the Malaysian people.
“But allegedly corrupt officials and their associates reportedly used the funds for a lavish spending spree: US$200 million for real estate in Southern California and New York; US$130 million in artwork; and, US$100 million in an American music label. Not to mention a US$265 million yacht.
“In total, 1MDB officials allegedly laundered more than US$4.5 billion in funds through a complex web of opaque transactions and fraudulent shell companies with bank accounts in countries ranging from Switzerland and Singapore to Luxembourg and the United States.
“This is kleptocracy at its worst,” Sessions had said at the global summit.
Sessions said the US had returned US$119 million to the people of Italy, US$115 million to the people of Kazakhstan, more than US$20 million to the people of Peru and millions more to the people of Nicaragua, South Korea and Taiwan since 2004.
The US’ top prosecutor said such recoveries were only possible with mutual legal assistance from foreign law enforcement partners.
However, the Malaysian government has so far refused to cooperate with foreign prosecutors investigating 1MDB, including by rejecting mutual legal assistance requests from Switzerland.
This is despite Prime Minister Najib Razak’s consistent denial of any wrongdoingconcerning 1MDB and his previous claim that Malaysia would cooperate with international investigations.