The world learnt about the sort of salary that your friendly Singapore bank manager can hope to earn, when Mr Yak Yew Chee deposited his court papers yesterday.
No less than SNG$27 million in salary and, more importantly, bonuses in just four short years roared the news headlines.
$1 million salary and $10.4 million bonus in 2014 – for what?
Another revelation that came out from the highly informative dossier dumped by Mr Yak before the courts was that, despite him being on what was repeatedly described as “unpaid leave” since April 2015, the bank had nevertheless being sending him monthly salary cheques of $83,000.
The cheques, instead of normal bank transfers, were a handy concession by the bank, because he could cash them abroad, where his accounts were not frozen like they are in Singapore.
Yak provided the court with copies of the cheques to show just how generous his BSI employers were (above). The documents also showed that to begin with Yak had signed an agreement to take this so-called “unpaid leave” in May and to cooperate with the bank.
Agreement that was to turn sour
However, friction had already broken out between his legal advisors and the bank, with Yak making plain in April that his understanding that the measures being taken were to prepare the bank in case of an allegation being made against it and to protect him were not being upheld.
Yak’s legal team claimed he was being let down by his superiors who were anticipating action against BSI
Yak was apparently being kept on the payroll in order to ensure his continued cooperation with the bank, however the email trail makes clear he was suspicious of his employers motives in case they pinned the blame on him.
Was this the real reason he took his case public?
Jho Low links to 1MDB confirmed by his bank manager
Yak’s now public court papers have also thrown a great deal more light onto how the various Singapore private banks were handling Jho Low and his related accounts and in the process have scotched for ever the on-going lie that the businessman had nothing to do with 1MDB after 2009, as doggedly maintained by Arul Kanda and Low himself.
Indeed, the proposed statutory declaration, which was being negotiated between Yak and his BSI employers in order to present the bank’s position to the investigating authorities, included the following damning points in that respect:
“I have not at any time entered into any arrangement to give of cause to be given any Gratification …relating to the accounts held with the BSI group by Brazen Sky Ltd, Low Tak Jho, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, Aabar Investments PJSC and/or their respective affiliates….
We would clarify that the additional parties named are closely linked in the matrix of business relationships involving 1MDB/Brazen and Low, and we trust your client would agree that Gratification could conceivably have involved them and would be willing to negate any such suspicion.”
In other words BSI Bank were confirming that the affairs of 1MDB, Brazen Sky and Jho Low were inextricably intertwined… along with the bogus Aabar subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS Limited, which Yak also mentions in his statement (below).
What the bank negotiated with Yak to say in his statement
Yet, over the bridge in Malaysia, the Prime Minister and his diminishing coterie of die hard supporters continues to ban this website and bully other online commentators using ‘anti-terrorism’ laws, on the grounds that we are promoting “falsehoods”.
According to 1MDB’s own bank, what we have said on this matter (as on several others) is confirmed to be true. This may be why the PM’s tame AG has turned today to threatening life imprisonment for leaking ‘state secrets’ instead.
Yak’s “fantastic business success”
These insider revelations have lead onlookers to speculate on the real reasons why Yak made his tell-all application to the court, purportedly to unfreeze his accounts?
He said he needed to pay bills in Singapore. However, the Singapore Commercial Affairs Department countered with an aggressive rebuttal the concept that this gentleman needed money.
Responding to his application, the CAD pointed out that Yak had “squirrelled” over $5 million out into foreign banks before they had managed to freeze his accounts and that they had only some $7.91 million of his admitted $27 million in earnings under lock and key.
That left a “staggering S$9 million unaccounted for” raged the authority, which therefore argued that Yak could quite easily pay his bills by repatriating some of the millions he had parked abroad.
CAD confirms that BSI’s claim about unpaid leave was untrue
Yesterday, the authority reached an accommodation with Yak, agreeing that the banker could bring money back from abroad to pay his bills, without measures being taken to freeze it.
Meanwhile, the world’s media was left at liberty to examine the insider documents which have passed between BSI Bank and Yak ever since 1MDB scandal erupted in March of last year, causing the Singapore authorities to question that bank and Yak to be suspended from his posts.
It seems that Yak’s real reason, therefore, may have been to counter what he plainly suspected were manoeuvres by the bank to make him the scapegoat for what he insists were decisions that went right up to the top of BSI. Certainly, the dossier proves that by January this suspended relationship manager for Jho Low and 1MDB was at loggerheads with his bosses.
At issue were repeated demands by his line manager Hanspeter Brunner, CEO Asia, that Yak agree to attend the bank for questioning about a charge that he withheld information from his superiors about a ‘notice of security relating to one of the bank’s clients’.
HansPeter Brunner and his legal team parried for months with Yak, trying to get him to cooperate in informal talks at the bank
Other papers make it perfectly plain that this ‘notice of security’ referred to none other than the massive loan made by Deutsche Bank of nearly US$1 billion to 1MDB, to finance its debt repayments in late 2014.
That loan was secured on the apparent US$1.03 billion alleged to be in 1MDB’s subsidiary account named Brazen Sky at BSI in Singapore.
When Sarawak Report revealed in May that the Singapore authorities had found that Brazen Sky had no cash in that account, Deutsche Bank pulled the loan.
In his correspondence with BSI Yak himself claimed that he did nothing at the bank without the approval of his bosses and that he had not referenced the said notice, because the client had told him not to proceed.
I would have sought management approval if the client (1MDB) had confirmed they wished the arrangement to proceed …..Yak explains why he did not tell his bosses about the ‘security check’ which Deutsche Bank requested on the Brazen Sky account for its billion dollar loan to 1MDB
In all the correspondence Yak repeatedly claimed that his superiors at the bank were fully aware of all his transactions with these mega clients of the bank.
Much of the increasingly hostile correspondence between Yak and his seniors at the bank surrounded his plain reluctance to be called in for oral questioning about these matters by the bank and to sign their ‘notes’ on the proceedings without proper legal protection, full recordings and written questions in advance of any interrogation.
Yak was plainly fearful that the bank would use anything he said in the informal and unrecorded meetings which his BSI bosses were demanding that he attend to pin all the blame on him.
His bosses, who we now know were still paying him and still offering a potential bonus payment if he cooperated with their wishes, expressed a growing anger and frustration over Yak’s refusal to attend a meeting, except on his own terms of written questions in advance and a full recording of the discussion being made.
Tough words from BSI accusing Yak of “insubordination” while on his ‘unpaid leave’
But, Yak was adamant that he did not trust his employers to make a fair record of the interview. If BSI had continued to pay him and discuss his bonus during this “unpaid leave” it wasn’t producing the desired cooperation.
Yak’s court deposition carefully contains ample evidence to back his point that far from being a rogue banker, he had been BSI’s star employee right until the regulators began investigating Jho Low’s accounts at the bank.
He was praised from the very top for his “fantastic success” in bringing in business by none other than Dr Alfredo Gysi, the Swiss boss of the BSI group, who sent him a personal letter of congratulation at the end of 2011.
Incidentally, it was shortly after Yak joined in September 2009 that Jho Low had opened his ADKMIC account and several other personal and business accounts at BSI and started transferring half a billion dollars from his RBS Coutts Zurich Good Star account to BSI.
Was this the reason for the plaudits?
Jho Low company accounts brought to BSI in 2011, along with an $11 million personal account
“Hanspeter told me about the fantastic business success you achieved in the last few weeks…. He also told me this was done in close teamwork.. thank you for your immense contribution not only to the growth of our new Asia business but to BSI Group as well” gushed CEO, Dr Gysi.
Personal accolade from the ultimate boss of BSI in Switzerland Christmas 2011
Yak’s bonus incentives
It should be remembered that Yak transferred to BSI from Coutts Singapore, from where he had earlier managed Jho Low’s accounts and it can be surmised that one of the reasons he was engaged on a handsome starter salary of $500,000 a year was for the very reason that he was bringing a very wealthy set of clients.
You shall be a Senior Relationship Manager – starter salary $500,000
One can also only conclude that the extraordinarily rapid salary increases that Yak subsequently achieved at BSI and his enormous bonus payments were likewise owing to the immense amount of business his clients, by now not only Low, but Low’s related 1MDB, Aabar and SRC accounts were bringing in too.
His declaration, devised in collaboration with his bosses at the bank, that he did not receive any ‘Gratification’ from these clients as an incentive for handling these accounts would therefore seem to be entirely plausible. After all, Yak was receiving plenty of gratification from his own employers for managing these transactions, so what further incentive did he need?
Don’t make me a scapegoat
Sarawak Report therefore suspects that the reason why Yak Yew Chee has chosen to place all this material in the courts and before the public eye is to attempt to protect himself from being singled out by BSI Bank and the prosecutors as a lone ‘rogue banker’ in this affair.
His misdeeds, if there were misdeeds, in handling suspect transactions by politically connected individuals linked to public funds were known about and ultimately approved by the hierarchies of both BSI and earlier Coutts bank, according to Yak
Don’t make me the scapegoat – senior management knew everything says Yak!
Certainly, records show that neither Coutts nor BSI initiated proceedings to investigate the multi-million dollar suspicious transactions managed by Yak. They rewarded Yak handsomely instead.
What Singapore Knows About 1MDB's Money Trail - Answer: Enough To Really Close The Case
3 FEB 2016
Now that Singapore has signalled that it is working with the Swiss and US regulators to investigate the suspicious money transfers related to 1MDB, it is worth recalling what their Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) do already know.
1MDB PetroSaudi’s missing money
Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Governor of BNM has officially demanded 1MDB repatriate US$1.83 bn misappropriated from the PetroSaudi JB
With regard to the first suspicious IMDB transactions in 2009/10, relating to its joint venture with the company PetroSaudi, the three regulatory regimes by now have an almost comprehensive knowledge of what happened to the bulk of the US$1.83 billion, which the Bank of Malaysia (BNM) has formally complained was misappropriated under false pretences (a charge the Prime Minister and his Attorney General have chosen to ignore against 1MDB).
After all, these payments were transferred in US dollars, through the US clearing system, into Swiss banks, meaning they are open to scrutiny by both Swiss and US investigators.
The banks concerned were JP Morgan Swiss, which managed the money that went to 1MDB PetroSaudi’s supposed joint venture operations and RBS Coutts Zurich, which received the original US$700 million that was illegally siphoned out of the joint venture in 2009, plus a second payment of US$330 million in 2011, according to Malaysian investigation papers obtained by Sarawak Report last year.
Further evidence obtained from the PetroSaudi database, leaked by jailed whistleblower Xavier Justo, shows that of the remaining US$800 million sent to the 1MDB PetroSaudi joint venture account, JP Morgan transferred no less than US$386 million into PetroSaudi Director Tarek Obaid’s own private account, which he handily kept at the same bank.
The definitive diagram – pulled together from the documents by The Edge
US$260 million of that went towards buying out the Jho Low/Taib owned UBG group and the rest went on Tarek’s own expenses.
Only US$400 million of the total sum went into PetroSaudi’s formal operations. These were managed through accounts mainly handled again by the same branch of JP Morgan, which continued to transfer vast sums between the business accounts of the sovereign joint venture fund and PetroSaudi and the private accounts of its Directors.
As, Sarawak Report has already detailed, the UK Director Patrick Mahony also opened an account with JP Morgan and received US$33 million of 1MDB’s money via the Tarek Obaid account.
JP Morgan Swiss held numerous public and private accounts for PetroSaudi and its Directors
In summary it means that of the US$1.83 billion taken from 1MDB only US$400 million went into the intended place, which was PetroSaudi’s operations, of which 1MDB nevertheless claimed only a 40% share under the joint venture.
This was the share that it later claimed to have sold for a staggering US$2.3 billion just a year later in 2012 (of which more later).
The Swiss and US authorities will have been able to share this now public information with Singapore and more.
Where did the money go next? Singapore’s linchpin bank manager at BSI Bank
1MDB Board Minutes revealed to the Public Accounts Committee and to the Auditor General (and published by Sarawak Report) have made clear that the Board was horrified to discover back in 2009 how the company’s management under CEO Shahrol Halmi had allowed this money to be extracted in an operation that had been entirely directed by Najib’s appointed advisor at 1MDB, the young businessman Jho Low.
The Chairman of the Board and another member resigned, having unsuccessfully demanded that the money be returned.
Singapore investigators are very well placed to know what happened to the bulk of the missing joint venture money next, thanks to their enquiries into the Singapore branch of BSI Bank, from which a local linchpin for Jho Low’s activities, Yak Yew Chee, has been suspended as a manager and where numerous bank accounts have been frozen.
BSI Singapore – another Swiss private bank in the money trail
They have ascertained (as Sarawak Report reported last year) that no less than US$530 million of the money siphoned out of 1MDB into the RBS Coutts Good Star Limited account 2009-11 was later transferred into a BSI Singapore account belonging to Jho Low during 2011-13 under the name of a company ADKMIC (Abu Dhabi Kuwait Malaysia Investment Company), which he beneficially owned.
The Singapore authorities notified the Malaysian investigators into 1MDB of this fact in March, as reported by Sarawak Report.
Transfers of 1MDB’s cash from Good Star’s RBS Coutts account to Jho Low’s BSI account.
The Singapore authorities have also recorded that in February 2014 Jho Low cleaned out this account and closed it. They will know where that half billion was sent next, because the record will be with the BSI bank branch and, since it was doubtless transferred in dollars, so will the Americans.
Hong Kong connection – time for action?
Sarawak Report has good reason to believe that much of the money moved out of Singapore by Low was placed in Hong Kong. It is futher understood that the Hong Kong authorities have also put a freeze on multi-billion dollar accounts which trace back to money siphoned from 1MDB.
The people of Malaysia will therefore be waiting to see if the Hong Kong authorities support other international regulators in coming out to openly confirm that they too are applying due enforcement measures to ensure the integrity of their finance centre?
Returning to the PetroSaudi missing money and the BSI bank connection, Singapore has further key pieces of the jigsaw puzzle right there at their finger tips, of course.
The Minister of Finance, Najib Razak, made an astonishing claim in 2012 that 1MDB had obtained a fantastic profit out of the PetroSaudi joint venture and had sold out its ‘interest’ to an anonymous entity for USD$2.3 billion (see above).
Not bad for a mere 40% share of an investment of US$400 million a few months earlier!
This windfall, Najib explained, was being invested in an anonymous fund in the Cayman Islands. Unfortunately, many of Malaysia’s more financially literate politicians proved hard to convince over this, particularly as no evidence was brought forward to substantiate the claims.
The opaque deal was subjected to relentless probing by opposition politicians and eventually it came out that the fund concerned was a shady venture, which was subsequently investigated and dismantled by the Australianregulators. Time to move the ‘investment’, which was suddenly declared to have been “redeemed” and taken under a subsidiary of 1MDB called Brazen Sky Limited.
It was announced by the Ministry of Finance in 2014, therefore, that Brazen Sky had opened an account at none other than very same the Singapore branch of BSI Bank managed by Mr Yak.
This account was declared by the Ministry of Finance and 1MDB in early 2015 to contain US$1.103 billion dollars in cash, the rest having been allegedly spent on 1MDB’s various ‘obligations’, which supposedly included buying out an ‘option’ obtained by the Abu Dhabi Aabar fund on 1MDB’s later power purchase deals (more on that later).
But, as Sarawak Report has already reported, the Singapore authorities told the Malaysian investigators in March that in fact there was no actual cash in this account, as had been adamantly claimed by 1MDB’s CEO Arul Kanda.
The Brazen Sky account was in fact a Brazen Lie account, according to an official letter from the Singapore Commercial Affairs Department to the Bank of Malaysia, obtained by Sarawak Report:
“BSI Bank received a facsimile of the BSI bank statement of account dated 30th Nov 2014 of Brazen Sky Limited, from Mr Arul Kanda, the CEO of 1MDB. We have received information that the bank statement does not represent the coreect position of the assets nor liabilities of the account and that the bank did not issue such a document”, the letter read.
After our expose Arul Kanda admitted there was no cash and clarified there were only undefined “units” in the account.
This made perfect sense to those who had wondered how 1MDB could have received US$2.3 billion dollars for an investment from which all the money had long since gone and why if they had received the money 1MDB had come up with so many conflicting stories as to why they did not employ the money to help bail it out of its increasing debts?
Aabar and the US$681 million in the PM’s account
The emergence of Mr Yak, due in court in Singapore on Friday, also neatly pulls together yet further key pieces of the 1MDB missing money jigsaw. This is because it has been revealed that he was not only the relationship manager for Jho Low (yesterday we published emails showing how he transferred millions to purchase diamonds for Rosmah Mansor on behalf of Low) and Brazen Sky.
He was also the manager for SRC International and Aabar Investment PJS Limited, which are all major channels for money that has gone missing from Malaysia’s public coffers and turn out to have had accounts at the very same Singapore Bank!
In the case of Aabar, 1MDB had audited that it had paid US$850 million to the Abu Dhabi fund, which for some reason ‘co-guaranteed’ a USD3.5 billion bond issue to fund 1MDB’s power purchase programme in 2012. The US$850 million was to satisfy an option offered to Aabar in return, it was explained.
Except the Wall Street Journal has pointed out that Aabar Investments PJS Limited (BVI), which is the company that actually received this payment, is not in fact a subsidiary of Aabar or linked in any way to the Abu Dhabi fund, despite the confusingly similar name!
Since we have now learnt that Mr Yak was the Singapore manager for that company account, he will be very easily in a position to tell the authorities exactly who owns this off-shore concern and who therefore actually received that missing US$850 million from 1MDB!
Likewise, it has been harder than drawing dragons’ teeth to get a satisfactory answer out of the Malaysian Minister of Finance (the self-same Najib) as to what has happened to the bulk of the RM4 billion that he allowed the company SRC International to borrow from the KWAP public pension fund.
Was Nik Faisal Yak’s client?
SRC International used to be a subsidiary of 1MDB, of which Najib is the sole shareholder and signatory, but after questions were asked about the failure to provide timely financial records it was moved directly under the Ministry of Finance, also controlled by Najib.
Nik Kamil also happened to have a job acting as a proxy (with power of attorney) over the bank accounts belonging to the Prime Minister, which received payments from SRC and he was the director of the company Gandingan Mentari, through which money was transferred from SRC to the PM’s private accounts.
He is now hiding in Indonesia.
Malaysia now knows of course, amidst considerable scandal, that at least RM55 million was transferred into the Prime Minister’s private accounts from SRC – money which came from the public pension fund KWAP. However, the PM last week has said he didn’t realise the money had come from there and thought it had come in from a generous donor and the Attorney General he appointed has accepted this excuse and decided not to prosecute him – calling him “cleared”.
However, that still leaves an awful lot more missing from SRC which remains unaccounted for.
Sarawak Report has already analysed how a statement by the Prime Minister that the bulk of the borrowed money had been invested in a Mongolian Coal venture does not add up with official company figures, which demonstrate at most that the investment in Gobi Coal can only be worth around RM180 million, leaving most of the RM4 billion still unaccounted for.
The good news is that now that we know that Mr Yak was also the manager for an SRC account in Singapore, perhaps Malaysians can expect to learn more from the Singapore enquiries into this matter as well!
Tanore Finance Corporation
Finally, Singapore is also in a position to tell the world everything it needs to know about that whopping US$681 million “donation” received by the Prime Minister from an anonymous source, which is now being described as a Saudi Royal – more specifically the dead King Abdullah, as touted by media spinners.
Swiss Falcon Bank CEO Eduardo Leeman
This is because the money was paid into Najib’s KL account via the Aabar owned Swiss Falcon Bank’s Singapore branch.
The Chairman of the Bank Mohamed Al Husseiny was also the CEO of Aabar, which had been involved in raising massive bond deals with 1MDB.
Al Husseiny and his boss the Aabar Chairman Khadem Al Qubaisi have now both been sacked by the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund, in a hugely significant crackdown by the Emirate state against the fund’s blatant corruption and mismanagement. Malaysians are therefore waiting to see, as with Hong Kong and Australia, whether Abu Dhabi will open up about some of the goings on at Aabar regarding 1MDB as they start trying to clean up the mess at this IPIC subsidiary.
Meanwhile, the Swiss CEO of Falcon, Eduardo Leeman, can hardly have been unaware of such an enormous series of transactions in their small Singapore branch. He and the local managers of Falcon Bank in Singapore had a duty to know who was the beneficial owner of the Tanore Finance Corporation (BVI) account held at their bank.
It was from here that the two transfers totalling US$681 million were made to Najib in 2013, so the owner ought to provide a clear indication as to the provenance of the money.
So Singapore can tell us, was it the Saudi King Abdullah, hiding through an off-shore entity or was it perhaps Jho Low, having received the money out of the 1MDB Aabar connected bond for US$3 billion which had just been raised in a mad hurry during the previous week by Goldman Sachs on behalf of Najib Razak?
The Goldman Sachs connection
Of course, the US regulators will be able to ask Goldman Sachs about where the 1MDB bond money was sent once they raised it on behalf of Najib. Altogether three 1MDB bond issues linked to guarantees from Aabar raised US$6.5 billion in 2012-13. So, did the money go to regular 1MDB accounts or to dodgy off-shore companies with accounts in places like Singapore?
Leave of absence Goldman’s top guy in Singapore Tim Leissner
The Singapore authorities will also be able to make queries of Goldman Sachs on this matter, because these bond deals were handled by the Singapore head at the bank, Tim Leissner, who boasted a personal friendship with Najib and Rosmah.
Coincidentally, Leissner has just taken an unexpected leave of absence from his Singapore based job and has returned to the United States. However all these regulatory authorities are well placed to determine whether the Tanore Finance Corporation accounts had anything to do with 1MDB and Jho Low.
Money ‘returned to donor’
Singapore is also perfectly placed to shed light on perhaps the most baffling stage of this twisted tale of missing billions. Last year Sarawak Report had revealed that Najib had in fact, shortly after the 2013 election, closed down his multi-billion election buying KL account and sent the money back to Singapore.
We reported he had sent USD$650 million back out of the account to BSI. We also reported that, over and above the famous RM2.6 billion from Tanore Finance Corporation, there had been at least two more multi-million dollar payments into Najib’s KL account at AmBank between 2011 and 2013, meaning that it had topped a billion dollars during the election period. We reported that this was why Najib had so much remaining to send back out of the country after pouring money into that campaign.
King Abdullah – not in a position to disprove Najib’s claim – as he has died
It took over six months before Najib last week conceded that indeed we were correct and that money had been sent back – the Attorney General gave a figure of US$620 million, which he claimed was sent back to the original anonymous donor of all that money!
However, this new excuse has totally ignored our original information that other payments had also been made into Najib’s account.
To the contrary AG Apandi and Najib’s lawyers have stuck to the line that Najib “returned” all but US$61 million dollars out of an original US$681 to the alleged “Saudi royal donor”, on the basis that this was all he used in swaying the election his way.
Why didn’t he tell everyone that in the first place?
Was he waiting to see if the newspapers had any documentary evidence to prove there was more money in the AmBank account before he decided to ignore the further payments we have identified? In which case woe betide if more information comes out from the very many investigations into the matter!
Of course, the Singapore authorities can easily obtain the exact figures, since the money went through there. They can also ascertain if the money was indeed returned in a westerly direction towards a Saudi Royal figure or in an easterly direction towards a 1MDB-related figure, like Jho Low for example, in Hong Kong.
It is at this point that Malaysians are starting to wonder, as with Hong Kong and Abu Dhabi, if the Australians are going to do their duty and step up to the plate alongside the US, Swiss and Singapore authorities?
Because ANZ Bank are the major shareholders of Malaysia’s AmBank and they too must know who were the beneficial parties in the money transfers into Najib’s KL account.
AmBank’s chief executive in KL at the time of these monster transfers into Najib’s account was an Australian banker on secondment from ANZ. Like Goldman’s Mr Leissner this executive also stepped down earlier than expected last year, however the Australian regulators by now ought to have examined the case and they ought to also know the reason why AmBank has recently paid an enormous multi-million dollar fine for unspecified matters to the Malaysian Central Bank.
In particular, we ask, what steps were taken by the majority Australian owned AmBank to identify the ‘fake sheikh’ who guaranteed all four of the major payments made into Najib Razak’s account 2011-13, as reported by Sarawak Report, which totalled over a billion according to our reliable sources of information?
After all, it was the same sheikh, “His Highness Saud Abdulaziz Majid al-Saud”, who wrote to authorise the payment of US$170 million to Najib from a BVI company named Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners (BVI) in 2011, as it was who later guaranteed the more famous ‘donation’ of US$681 million from Tanore Finance Corporation (BVI) later in 2013.
Since there is evidence that the beneficial owner of Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners is 1MDB’s Jho Low, this merits further investigation by the Australian regulators of AmBank, as well as the regulators in Singapore.
In summary, the Singapore regulators are in a prime position to identify if the latest explanation coming out of KL, after months of twists and turns, denials and new stories, is true, which is that a Saudi King gave Najib billions of ringgit to help win the 2013 election (and defeat PAS) nearly all of which Najib then sent back.
Or is the far simpler and more logical picture that has started to emerge, in fact the truth, which is that this was all money systematically stolen from 1MDB and KWAP?
What appears plain from the facts, which all piece very nicely together at this stage, is that people with influence over 1MDB, SRC, Aabar and PetroSaudi conspired to remove money from the Malaysian development fund and KWAP pension fund, very much in the way succinctly described last week in the statement of the Swiss Attorney General.
First, these systematic fraudsters pretended to be investing in PetroSaudi, then they pretended to be engaged in raising money and investing with Aabar. In fact, it is plain to see that very little was invested, meanwhile some RM25 billion (around US$8 billion) has gone missing and unaccounted for from these Malaysian public funds.
If so, did some of that missing money find its way into Najib’s massive election war chest and later was a lot of it returned back out of the country, into the web of off-shore companies and Swiss and Singapore bank accounts, once that election was over?
Also, was some of the rest of the money used to pay off key players who allowed their organisations (namely PetroSaudi and Aabar) to be used as fronts – for example the half billion dollars that Sarawak Report recently exposed as being paid to the sacked Aabar Chairman Khadem Al Qubaisi?
Jho Low –
Finally, what about all that record money, which has been has been conspicuously lavished by 1MDB’s youthful bigwigs like Jho Low, apparently celebrating their success in looting one of the largest sums of money to have ever been stolen from anywhere?
Indeed, it was the partying and eye-popping expenditures by Jho Low, Khadem al Qubaisi and their champagne-quaffing, blond bimbo-loving friends that first alerted Sarawak Report to the likely destination of 1MDB’s missing billions.
We just followed the money and we have spoken out… and no one has sued us yet!
SWISS GO NUCLEAR - AG SAYS "US$4 BILLION WAS MISAPPROPRIATED FROM 1MDB"
29 JAN 2016
No playing games – Swiss Attorney General Michael Laubersaid refuses to condone Apandi’s whitewash attempt
Well after normal office hours on Friday the Swiss Attorney General’s Office detonated the diplomatic equivalent of a nuclear bomb under the attempts by Najib and his own Attorney General to bury the scandal around 1MDB.
Responding to the Malaysian AG Mohammed Apandi’s surprise announcement this week that Najib had been “cleared” of any wrongdoing by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission investigation, the Swiss Attorney General Michael Laubersaid has issued a media statement of possibly unprecedented bluntness from the traditionally low-profile Swiss authorities.
The devastating one page document, delivered in the form of a public request for Malaysia to assist in Switzerland’s own criminal enquiries into 1MDB, has blown the whistle on the entire case and laid out in astonishing terms the key aspects of the Swiss investigation’s findings so far.
In doing so, the Swiss Attorney General has substantiated each of the major allegations published by Sarawak Report and other investigators into 1MDB over the past year, since the original details from the dossier of Swiss national Xavier Justo were first revealed by this news portal.
Detailed assault on Malaysia’s claims of innocence at 1MDB
Explaining his “request for mutual assistance” the Swiss AG has made several landmark revelations, confirming official concerns about corruption on an epic scale at 1MDB.
He has introduced a new figure of US$4 billion as the suspected amount that his officials believe has been criminally misappropriated from the fund. A sum, which, he points out, was “earmarked for investment in economic and social projects in Malaysia”.
“The sum suspected to have been misappropriated amounts to around USD 4 billion… So far it has been ascertained that a small portion of the money was transferred to accounts held in Switzerland by various former Malaysian public officials and both former and current public officials from the United Arabic Emirates” [press release by Swiss AG Michael Laubersaid]
In publishing this bold assertion the Swiss AG has shot out of the water months of twisting and turning by 1MDB and its new CEO Arul Kanda and his boss the Minister of Finance, as they have attempted to explain the billions missing from 1MDB.
All but named!
The Swiss AG does not mince his words in pointing the finger at those he believes to be responsible for the shocking misappropriation or the crimes for which he believes they should be prosecuted.
On the list of people identified as responsible are “foreign public officials” suspected of being bribed; “various former Malaysian public officials and both former and current public officials from the United Arabic Emirates”
He further reveals that “criminal proceedings opened on 14th August 2015 against two former officials of the Malaysian state-owned fund 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad) and persons unknown” under a series of Swiss laws, a proceeding which had not previously been publicised.
Sarawak Report suggests that the individuals referred to by the Swiss AG under these categories are likely to include the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Jho Low, the former CEO of 1MDB, Shahrol Halmi and the former Abu Dhabi Aabar fund managers, Khadem al Qubaisi and his deputy Mohamed al Husseiny.
The above men have all been featured as key players in Sarawak Report’s exposes on 1MDB. The crimes outlined by the Swiss Attorney General, of which they are together or separately suspected are “bribery of foreign public officials; misconduct in public office; money laundering and criminal mismanagement”
The unrelenting and direct accusations by an objective foreign regulator leave the Malaysian Prime Minister’s claims that the allegations against 1MDB have been an “unnecessary distraction” in tatters.
Swiss are investigating all aspects of the 1MDB scandal
The AG’s statement also makes clear that, far from limiting their investigations, the Swiss have extended their criminal enquiries into all the main aspects of the 1MDB financial scandal, as covered in recent Sarawak Report exposes. He mentions four main areas of shady operations, but indicates there may be more:
“So far four cases involving allegations of criminal conduct and covering the period from 2009 to 2013 have come to light in this connection (relating to Petrosaudi, SRC, Genting/ Tanjong and ADMIC”
The fact that Swiss banks were dragged into almost every aspect of 1MDB’s activities by the main perpetrators must indeed now stand as a point of considerable regret by them.
The issues referred to by Laubersaid include the original PetroSaudi heist of a total of US$1.5 billion, as well as the series of massive bond deals conducted together with Aabar in 2012, supposedly to fund two power plant purchase deals by 1MDB. Huge sums were recorded missing from the Aabar deals as well as from a subsequent ‘Strategic Partnership” with Aabar in 2013.
The final referrence to ADMIC shows that the Swiss are also looking into the money that was transferred by Jho Low from his Good Star company account in Zurich to his BSI Singapore account held under the name of ADMIC (Abu Dabhi Malaysia Investment Corporation).
Banks in the spotlight
Other players, who are now faced with worrying questions to deal with in these investigations, are the major banks which facilitated these deals.
Leissner (with model wife) has bowed out of GSI just as the questions piled up
The Swiss private banks RBS Coutts Zurich, JP Morgan Zurich, BSI, Falcon Bank, and Bank Privee Edmond de Rothschilde Europe are all facing questions about the hundreds of millions processed through the accounts of these public officials and politically exposed persons.
Also likely to be highly concerned is the American giant Goldman Sachs. The main individual behind the 1MDB bond deals, their Singapore boss Tim Leissner was reported to have taken leave from the bank only last week. Sarawak Report has reported for months on the eyebrow raising sums paid to the bank in return for unusual and enormous bond deals raised for 1MDB.
Malaysia is put on the spot
By going public in this brutal and highly unusual way, the Swiss have made plain they want no more nonsense from Najib or his henchmen like Apandi.
Laubersaid makes yet another revelation in his jaw-dropping press release, which is that the Malaysian AG had met with his officials in September and promised full cooperation. That cooperation, he implies, is yet to be fulfilled on Apandi’s part:
“Cooperation between the two countries was already discussed at a meeting in Zurich on 15th September 2015 between the Swiss Attorney General and his Malaysian counterpart. This request for mutual assistance now puts the agreement in principle that was reached into concrete terms”
It means, in short, that what Apandi has said to the Malaysian public is not what he was saying in private and that his claims of there being no evidence to pursue charges against 1MDB are nonsense in the eyes of his European counterpart.
This letter refers to a “systematic course of action by means of complex financial structures” by the alleged perpetrators of the crimes against 1MDB and Laubersaid makes clear his impatience with the fact that despite this looting of billions from Malaysia’s public companies “the Malaysian companies concerned have made no comment on the losses they are believed to have incurred”.
The Swiss authority ends on a conciliatory note, explaining that, given no Malaysian company has yet raised this issue of their massive losses, the Swiss are offering their assistance to “advise the companies and the Malaysian government of the results of the Swiss criminal proceedings with the aim of finding out whether losses on this scale have been sustained”.
Wall Street Journal
Before the release of their media statement the AG and his officials also gave spoken comments to the Wall Street Journal. Laubersaid had told the WSJ:
“We are very concerned. We have found evidence of suspicious money transfers linked to 1MDB going through Swiss financial institutions, and we believe that it is very important that it is shared with the Malaysian authorities.”
It was just hours later that he moved to action, making what may become a historic step in the fight to combat global money-laundering.
This weekend the beleaguered voices from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Bank of Malaysia and those others from the world of politics who have protested against a year of 1MDB cover-ups have found a powerful new ally from the international financial stage.
The statement in full
See the WSJ article below
ZURICH—Swiss authorities on Friday said they were concerned Malaysia had ended its investigation into the transfer of nearly $700 million into Prime Minister Najib Razak’s private bank account, saying the move could hinder their own probe where “strong evidence” has been found.
“We are very concerned,” Swiss Attorney General Michael Laubersaid in a statement Friday to The Wall Street Journal. “We have found evidence of suspicious money transfers linked to 1MDB going through Swiss financial institutions, and we believe that it is very important that it is shared with the Malaysian authorities.”
The Swiss Office of the Attorney General, or OAG, has raised concerns over the handling of the case, saying it believes evidence it has gathered and is due to send to Malaysia won’t be considered by its counterparts there.
“There appears to have been a sizable fraud taking place here, and we believe [the case] should not be allowed to drop like this,” said OAG spokesman Andre Marty. “Without assistance from Malaysia our investigation in Switzerland risks running into a dead-end.”
Swiss authorities have been investigatingindividuals tied to Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, a public investment fund established by Mr. Najib in 2009 to encourage economic development in the country. The future of the Swiss 1MDB probe, which has found evidence of suspicious transactions made through Swiss banks, is now uncertain.
The Swiss OAG said Friday it was disappointed with the decision of the Malaysian authorities, especially after an agreement between the two countries’ attorneys general last year to support each other’s investigations.
Mr. Lauber said that “strong evidence” had been collected so far, without elaborating. Investigating cases of suspected financial wrongdoing is central the integrity of Switzerland’s financial center, he said. “In this fight we need reliable foreign counterparts.”
Following the announcement from Malaysian authorities on Tuesday, the Swiss attorney general’s office contacted the Malaysians directly and asked for mutual assistance between the agencies to continue, and for evidence unearthed by the Swiss to be considered.
So far Swiss authorities haven’t received a response from the Malaysian Attorney General’s Office. The office didn’t respond to a request for comment.
In July, The Wall Street Journal reported that an earlier Malaysian probe found that the nearly $700 million had entered Mr. Najib’s account through banks including a Singapore branch of Zurich-based Falcon Private Bank AG, as well as other companies and entities linked to 1MDB. Three financial institutions in Switzerland have been linked to the transfers.
In August, the Swiss attorney general’s office opened a criminal probe of two unidentified 1MDB executives and what it termed “persons unknown,” for suspected money laundering and the possible corruption of foreign officials. The following month, Swiss authorities said Malaysia’s attorney general had agreed to provide assistance by arranging for the interview of key witnesses.
Swiss authorities have also asked for information about money transfers, and account ownership details.
The Swiss have frozen tens of millions of dollars in assets at unspecified Swiss banks as part of their probe. The Journal has reported that the investigation has focused on transactions made using Falcon, which is owned by an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund that has done business with 1MDB. Falcon hasn’t been accused of wrongdoing.
As part of its announcement earlier this week, the Malaysian attorney general’s office said evidence doesn’t show that the Saudi donation to Mr. Najib “was given as an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do anything in relation to his capacity as a prime minister.” All but $61 million of the money was eventually returned to the Saudis, Malaysian authorities said.
However, a Saudi government official said the Saudi ministries of foreign affairs and finance had no information about such a donation being made.
Meanwhile, the Swiss expect to make requests for information regarding their own investigation in the next few days.