A Sarawak Report article that insinuated Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s wife Rosmah Mansor was a signatory to businessman Jho Low’s accounts once again highlights concerns over the dissemination of fake news, Communication and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak said today.
Salleh said it showed how certain quarters with vested interests attempted to sway public perception by spreading false claims.
The minister referred to a Malaysiakini report yesterday that said the signatory could be another person, based on a statement by the Singapore Attorney-General’s Chambers, as well as the details mentioned in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) suits.
“Without conducting a proper check, Sarawak Report saw it fit to make an accusation against Rosmah, albeit in a roundabout manner.
“It is disconcerting when media organisations, which claim to be championing good governance, choose to ignore the basic tenets of good journalism.
“This, once again, underscores the importance of distinguishing between fake news and authentic articles,” Salleh told Malaysiakini.
Last week, a Singapore court was told that Low (photo) had used companies under the alias Eric Tan Kim Loong for the purpose of setting up four accounts at Falcon Private Bank.
The four Falcon accounts were under Westfield Group Services Inc, Granton Property Holding Ltd, Tanore Finance Corp and Midhurst Trading Ltd, all of which were beneficially owned by Tan.
Following this, Sarawak Report, quoting sources, claimed that a signatory to the Falcon accounts in Singapore was a woman.
“Sarawak Report has been told that this signatory was a woman with whom Jho Low was closely associated in the matter of 1MDB.
“So, when insiders informed us over a year ago that Rosmah Mansor had complained over Jho Low’s spending, exclaiming ‘It’s my money as well’, perhaps this is what they were referring to?” the whistleblower website said in its article.
However, Malaysiakini reported that the signatory could have been former 1MDB executive Jasmine Loo.
The Singapore AGC statement on the trial of former Falcon Private Bank Singapore branch manager Jens Fred Sturzenegger highlighted a conversation he had with Low on appointing former 1MDB executive Jasmine Loo as a signatory for accounts that Loo had opened under the alias Eric Tan.
“On March 19, 2013, the accused (Sturzenegger) had a telephone conversation with Low.
“Part of the conversation touched briefly on the subject of adding Loo as a signatory over the Falcon Accounts,” the Singapore AGC said in a statement.
The Singapore AGC did not state if the move to make Loo a signatory went through.
However, the DOJ in its 1MDB-linked civil forfeiture suits, noted that a “1MDB Officer 3” was an authorised signatory of the Tanore account at Falcon Private Bank.
While the DOJ did not name “1MDB Officer 3”, it appeared to be referring to Loo, based on the description that the officer was 1MDB’s former general counsel and executive director of group strategy, positions which Loo held during her tenure at the firm.