All 1MDB directors from 2013 should be held accountable for the multi-billion ringgit 1MDB scandal, not just its former chief executive officer Shahrol Halmi, said political economics professor Edmund Terence Gomez.
“When the (1MDB) scandal eventually broke, there was not much news on this and today they have all been exonerated.
“They should be held accountable for what has happened because they were the directors,” Gomez said during a forum on 1MDB in Petaling Jaya today.
Some of the directors, he said, will likely claim that they knew nothing about the events of the scandal.
They might claim that this is because Shahrol was the one who turned his back on board decisions in both entities, he added.
“But you are still the directors. Bakke resigned. Azlan Zainol resigned,” he said, referring to former 1MDB chairperson Mohd Bakke Salleh and board member Azlan Mohd Zainol.
The duo had quit in protest after US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) that was meant for a 1MDB-PetroSaudi International joint venture was diverted to another company without the board’s approval.
Gomez also pointed out that although Shahrol was the one who “took the fall”, nothing had happened to him yet either.
He also said that there are several reforms to better the country which can be done almost immediately, but there is no political will to do so.
The first is that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak should step down as finance minister.
“The prime minister cannot be the finance minister,” he said.
Second, he said, is that the structure of ownership for government-linked companies (GLCs) and government-linked investment companies (GLICs) should change, as currently, the Finance Ministry exerts too much control over them.
“It cannot be accountable to the Finance Ministry, they have to be accountable to a separate body,” he said.
He said a good recommendation would be for these institutions to be made accountable to a parliamentary select committee headed by an opposition member instead.
“That is how it is in most other countries. It is a checks and balances system in play,” he said.
Thirdly, he said these GLCs and GLICs should be led by independent, competent executives who are left alone to do what they need to do.
“The reforms can be done and it can be done quickly, if there is political will.
“The time has come for us to put real political pressure on the prime minister to bring about these reforms quickly because you cannot let this state of play continue,” Gomez said.