MALAYSIA must build trust with other governments if it wishes to smoothen the extradition process for its wanted citizens abroad, said an international anti-graft official amid the hunt for financier Low Taek Jho.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) anti-graft vice-chair Lorenzo Salazar said the Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions provides countries a legal basis for extradition of persons wanted in transboundary corruption cases.
But Malaysia is not party to the convention, which has 44 signatories, including non-OECD members, he said.
“Extradition is mainly a problem of trust. You must trust the other country to execute an extradition request so you must build mutual confidence between countries.
“Building mutual trust among countries is the essential pre-condition for extradition and becoming a party to the OECD convention can help a country very much in becoming a part of the community where prosecutors can also meet and build mutual trust among them,” he told The Malaysian Insight on the sidelines of the International Conference on Financial Crime and Terrorism Financing 2019 recently.
Article 10(1) of the convention states that bribery of a foreign public official shall be deemed to be an extraditable offence by parties to the convention.
Salazar was commenting on the Malaysian authorities’ search for Low to face money-laundering charges in connection with the 1MDB financial scandal.
A spokesman for Low said on Saturday that the Penang-born businessman turned fugitive was offered asylum in August under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights but did not say which country made the offer.
Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador has vowed to get Low back in Malaysia to face trial.
Salazar, meanwhile, said the OECD anti-bribery convention provided a framework for countries to work together and build trust.
It allows public prosecutors of different countries to meet, seek legal assistance and facilitate extradition requests, he said.
It allows countries to move in a coordinated manner while adopting national legislation which makes bribing foreign public officials a crime.
It also provides a broad definition of bribery, requires countries to impose dissuasive sanctions and commits them to providing mutual legal assistance.
OECD also practises multilateral surveillance to ensure state parties comply with the provisions of the convention and to assess the steps taken by the countries to implement them in their legislation.
Salazar said even with the authority of such a treaty, which is similar to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, trust was still the major issue in any extradition request.
The European Union has managed to institutionalise this trust and the bloc of countries has developed an “ultra-simplified system” with the European arrest warrant, which enables an extradition to be completed within 40 days.
Low is wanted on eight charges of money-laundering in Malaysia. Last December, additional charges of money laundering were brought against Low over 1MDB funds channelled through his company Good Star Ltd.
The US Department of Justice had also charged him with funds misappropriated from 1MDB and for paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.
Low recently reached settlement with the DoJ on the charges, which includes waiving his rights to assets valued at more than US$1 billion allegedly acquired with 1MDB-linked funds and for which the DoJ had filed suit to confiscate in 2016-2017.
In the settlement, Low denied any wrongdoing in the cases against him in the US.
Malaysia to officially inform India of refusal to deport Zakir Naik
THE Foreign Affairs Ministry will send an official letter to the Indian government to explain why Malaysia is not acceding to its request to deport controversial preacher Zakir Naik
Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said he would discuss the contents of the letter with Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.
“There was a request from India and the prime minister (Dr Mahathir Mohamad) had explained why we didn’t send (Dr Zakir) back.
“During my meeting with my Indian counterpart (S. Jaishankar) last week in Bangkok in conjunction with the 35th Asean Summit, he had politely raised the issue and had asked us to send a letter as our official reply,” he said when winding up debate on the Supply Bill 2020 in the Dewan Rakyat today.
On the King Salman Centre for International Peace that was shut down last year, Saifuddin said the cabinet wished to review the decision to see if it should be allowed to open.
Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu had said last year that the centre would be shut down and that its role would be taken over by the the Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security which is under his ministry’s jurisdiction.
The Dewan Rakyat resumes sitting Monday.