PRIME Minister Najib Razak is to visit the White House next month and is likely to use the trip to showcase Malaysia’s commitment in fighting terrorism.
The Malaysian Insight understands the United States visit scheduled from September 10 to 12 will include Najib paying respects to the 911 memorial in New York on September 11, 16 years after the terror attacks.
At home, Najib’s trip will be of value in bolstering support in his base and to undercut the opposition narrative that the prime minister is a wanted person in the US.
He is scheduled to meet senior politicians from both political parties in the US during the visit to Washington DC. The visit comes in the wake of push by Washington for Malaysia to share intelligence on North Korea and step up efforts to block any weapons flow through Malaysia.
It is understood that Putrajaya wanted to announce the visit only after two major events, the Sea Games and the Merdeka Day celebrations, to get maximum exposure in the media.
The visit also comes in the heels of the US Department of Justice’s criminal investigation into money allegedly stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Najib’s brainchild.
The DoJ has also sought a delay to the civil suits filed in the past two years to forfeit more than US$1 billion (RM4.3 billion) in real estate and other assets.
In its civil cases, the DoJ alleged that between 2009 and 2015, more than US$4.5 billion belonging to 1MDB was diverted by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.
Last year, DoJ filed a civil asset forfeiture suit to seize more than US$1 billion in assets that were bought using funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.
In June, DoJ filed another suit to seize US$540 million in assets, including a US$165 million yacht the Equanimity, owned by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, and rights to comedy movie Dumb and Dumber To produced by Red Granite, a production house co-owned by Riza Aziz, Najib’s stepson.
Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, is also linked to a 22-carat pink diamond necklace, which allegedly cost US$27.3 million (RM117 million), bought by Low as a gift to the “wife of Malaysian Official No. 1” (MO1).
A minister has admitted that MO1 is Najib.
The Malaysian Insight