Malaysia lawmaker group delays final audit hearing on state fund
A Malaysia parliamentary group has delayed a hearing into a final audit report on troubled state investment company 1Malaysia Development Bhd. because some lawmakers are overseas.
A report by the auditor general into 1MDB is now expected to be discussed during the first week of March, rather than this week, Public Accounts Committee Chairman Hasan Arifin said Tuesday in an e-mailed statement. Many members of the group are abroad, either to perform Islamic pilgrimages or for other commitments, and the attendance of everyone is important, he said.
The delay may have the knock-on effect of pushing back the timetable for the PAC to release its own probe on the fund's operations, and risks prolonging concerns over the company that have engulfed the nation and its financial markets for more than a year.
Debt-ridden 1MDB has been the subject of overlapping investigations by local agencies including the central bank, plus countries such as Switzerland and Hong Kong amid allegations of financial irregularities.
The PAC report would be one of the final findings in the various probes of 1MDB and more broadly a funding scandal involving Prime Minister Najib Razak, who heads the company's advisory board. An interim report from the auditor general's office on 1MDB last year did not find any suspicious activity, and the attorney general dismissed the central bank's request to initiate criminal proceedings against the company.
The committee had planned to table its own conclusions on 1MDB during the March sitting of parliament, state news service Bernama reported earlier this month. It has not said when it might now release the report.
Separately, the attorney general closed the door on a graft investigation into Najib last month, clearing him of wrongdoing over a "personal contribution" of $681 million from Saudi Arabia's royal family, and funds from a company linked to 1MDB that appeared in his personal bank accounts.
Under Malaysia's constitution, a decision to initiate criminal prosecution lies solely with the attorney general. Najib and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing.