Malaysia 1MDB Probe Inadequate, Journal Says

Najib Razak, Rosmah Mansour, 1MDB, Singapore, Malaysia, BSI

Malaysian PM Najib with his wife, Rosmah Mansour

1MDB is at the heart of a corruption and money-laundering scandal rocking Singapore and Switzerland. The controversy has failed to register much in Malaysia itself, where no one has been charged in connection with the fund. By contrast, 143-year-old Swiss bank Banca della Svizzera Italiana, or BSI, was felled by its alleged connections to the fund, and several BSI bankers face charges in Singapore over their dealings in connection with the fund.

Malaysian investigators looking into the case haven't interviewed Najib Razak, the prime minister of Malaysia and founder of 1MDB, according to the «Wall Street Journal». Najib is also the country's minister of finance.

Broken Promises

More than a year ago, Razak promised a thorough accounting of what happened at the fund, which was founded to foster economic development in the Asian country. As part of that probe, Malaysia's auditor general compiled a report of 1MDB's activities, and Razak also ordered the findings to be reviewed and discussed by a parliamentary committee. While the report was completed as ordered, it was kept from public view.

The Malaysian probe left out a number of key fund transfers carried out through a complex web of transactions involving offshore companies linked to 1MDB, according to the «Wall Street Journal».

Najib's Various Hats

Malaysia's auditor general also declined to interview Prime Minister Najib, chairman of 1MDB's board of advisers and, as Malaysia's finance minister its ultimate overseer, despite urgings from other participants in the country's inquiry, the newspaper reported.

The auditor general also failed to share evidence from a central bank official that $1 billion in funds from 1MDB had been transferred to an offshore company owned by a close Najib associate, reported the WSJ, which reviewed a letter outlining the evidence.

Wolf of Wall Street

The report highlights that while 1MDB has rocked Singapore's and Switzerland's banking community and provoked investigations elsewhere too, the matter has largely been swept under the carpet in Malaysia until now, in part because key evidence appears to have intentionally been omitted from the probe.

Najib and his family are accused of using 1MDB funds for an election campaign but also for spending sprees of jewelry, clothing and real estate abroad and to help finance blockbuster «The Wolf of Wall Street», according to the WSJ, which cites investigators in Malaysia and other people familiar with the matter. Najib has denied the allegations and said he has done nothing wrong in connection with the fund.


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