Malaysian banker concerned about country's financial future
As Malaysia's government seeks to shut the door on one funding furor, another opens. Rolling scandals that have hit the country for seven months have the premier's brother, a senior banker, likening the climate to HBO's "Game of Thrones".
The future for Malaysia "terrifies" him, Nazir Razak wrote in an Instagram post. That was a day after the Swiss Attorney General's office said a probe of debt-ridden government investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd. revealed "serious indications" that about $4 billion may have been misappropriated from state companies in the Southeast Asian nation.
Just last week, Malaysia's attorney general cleared Nazir's elder brother, Prime Minister Najib Razak, of wrongdoing in receiving a $681 million personal donation from the Saudi royal family in 2013, as well as funds from a company linked to 1MDB. Of the Saudi funds, $620 million was later returned. Malaysia will cooperate with Swiss authorities and review the findings before determining a course of action, Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Ali said on the weekend. 1MDB said it hasn't been contacted by any foreign legal authorities. Najib is "not one of the public officials under accusation," Andre Marty, a spokesman for the Swiss attorney general's office, said Monday in a statement. The premier's office declined to comment on the matter or on Nazir's comments. The prime minister said after his exoneration by Apandi that the Saudi donations probe was an "unnecessary distraction" for Malaysia.
As some overseas probes continue into 1MDB -- whose advisory board Najib chairs -- questions have been raised by opposition lawmakers and Najib's critics over the robustness of agencies overseeing Malaysia's governance. The imbroglios have led to calls for Najib's ouster from the opposition and former premier Mahathir Mohamad, and recalled Malaysia's decades-long struggle with corruption and money politics.
"The parallels with Game of Thrones continue," wrote Nazir, chairman of CIMB Group, one of the country's biggest lenders. "I just can't see how our institutions can recover, how our political atmos- phere can become less toxic, how our international reputation can be repaired." On Monday Nazir said he did not wish to comment further. Nazir and Najib have been seen interacting at public events and Nazir posts some of those pictures on his Instagram account.
The scandals come at a time growth and investment are slowing. Investments in manufacturing, services and primary sectors fell 15 percent in the first nine months of 2015 compared with the year before. The government last week trimmed its growth expectations for 2016.