Malaysian PM outed as key scan­dal fig­ure

The Myanmar Times - - World -

A MALAYSIAN cab­i­net min­is­ter has ad­mit­ted that Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak was the mys­te­ri­ous un­named of­fi­cial who the US Jus­tice De­part­ment said took part in ram­pant loot­ing of state funds.

The ad­mis­sion con­firmed wide­spread sus­pi­cions that Mr Na­jib was “Malaysian Of­fi­cial 1” men­tioned in a Jus­tice De­part­ment law­suit filed in July.

The law­suit – part of US moves to seize more than US$1 bil­lion in al­legedly ill-got­ten as­sets – re­peat­edly fin­gered the of­fi­cial as some­one con­spir­ing to di­vert vast sums from state in­vest­ment fund 1MDB.

Mr Na­jib, who launched a crack­down last year to con­tain the spi­ralling scan­dal, has so far not com­mented on the iden­tity of the un­named of­fi­cial.

But in an in­ter­view with the BBC last week, Min­is­ter of Ur­ban Well­Be­ing, Hous­ing and Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment Ab­dul Rah­man Dahlan ad­mit­ted it was Mr Na­jib.

“It’s ob­vi­ous that the so-called ‘Malaysian Of­fi­cial 1’ re­ferred to by the US Jus­tice De­part­ment is our prime min­is­ter,” he said in a sub­se­quent clar­i­fy­ing state­ment.

Mr Rah­man Dahlan, who also is com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for Mr Na­jib’s rul­ing coali­tion, did not ad­dress whether Mr Na­jib com­mit­ted wrong­do­ing. But he in­sisted Mr Na­jib was not a tar­get of the US law­suit.

His com­ments, how­ever, will add fuel to per­sis­tent calls for Mr Na­jib to step down and face jus­tice.

Tens of thou­sands of peo­ple paral­ysed the cap­i­tal Kuala Lumpur in Au­gust 2015 with two days of protest over the scan­dal.

Last week­end, sev­eral hun­dred pro­test­ers demon­strated, de­mand­ing that “Malaysian Of­fi­cial 1” be iden­ti­fied and ar­rested.

Mr Na­jib, how­ever, has shut down Malaysian in­ves­ti­ga­tions, clamped down on media re­port­ing of the af­fair and purged crit­ics from his rul­ing party.

1MDB, or 1Malaysia Devel­op­ment Ber­had, was launched by Mr Na­jib in 2009 and closely over­seen by him.

Al­le­ga­tions of a vast in­ter­na­tional scheme of em­bez­zle­ment and money-laun­der­ing in­volv­ing bil­lions of dol­lars of 1MDB money be­gan to emerge two years ago.

In its scathing law­suit, the US Jus­tice De­part­ment de­tailed how “Malaysian Of­fi­cial 1”, fam­ily mem­bers and close as­so­ciates di­verted bil­lions from the now-stricken fund.

Mr Na­jib and 1MDB deny any wrong­do­ing.

The Jus­tice De­part­ment has moved to seize as­sets in­clud­ing real es­tate in Bev­erly Hills, New York and Lon­don, art­works by Monet and Van Gogh, and a Bombardier jet that it al­leges were pur­chased with money stolen from 1MDB.

It was not im­me­di­ately clear why Mr Rah­man Dahlan, a staunch de­fender of Mr Na­jib, had outed him.

But the news dom­i­nated head­lines and was a top-trend­ing Twit­ter topic in the coun­try.

Se­nior op­po­si­tion fig­ure Lim Kit

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