PETALING JAYA – Electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 today welcomed the US attorney-general’s (AG) criticism of 1MDB, which came amid the coalition’s own asset recovery campaign.
In a statement issued by the steering committee, it said Jeff Sessions’ remarks had given “much hope” to Bersih, the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) and the 112 other NGOs involved in the campaign.
“Malaysians are extremely disturbed that money belonging to the people has been illicitly spent overseas on real estate, artwork, an expensive yacht and other lavish spending.
“Ironically, while it is case closed for 1MDB in Malaysia, this grand corruption has crossed international borders and is being held accountable by seven countries.
“Surprisingly, there is a pin drop silence by the prime minister, cabinet ministers and the Ministry of Finance Inc on the pointed allegations made by the US attorney-general. The Malaysian authorities should demand an explanation,” it added.
Speaking at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery hosted by the US and UK in Washington, Sessions had hit out at the 1MDB issue, calling it “kleptocracy at its worst”.
He said although 1MDB was created to promote long-term economic development, allegedly corrupt officials and their associates had reportedly used the funds for a lavish spending spree.
“Today, the US Department of Justice is working to provide justice to the victims of this alleged scheme,” he added.
Bersih noted however that despite Sessions’ criticism of 1MDB, Malaysia was excluded from the forum’s list of priority countries.
The forum, which focuses on returning stolen and laundered money to their countries of origin, is presently centred on Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine.
Bersih’s campaign is to ensure that confiscated illegal gains from money laundered from 1MDB funds in Switzerland can be recovered.
In April, Swiss AG Michael Lauber said the money laundering investigation into 1MDB was making progress despite Malaysian authorities’ refusal to cooperate.
“We’re still confident we can successfully conclude the process… in particular the open cases against the two banks,” he said, referring to Swiss private banks BSI and Falcon which have already had to pay out in the case.