Malaysia law­maker group de­lays fi­nal au­dit hear­ing on state fund

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

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.

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