Pua puts Arul’s head on the chopping block

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PETALING JAYA: The DAP’s chief 1MDB critic, Tony Pua, has called for 1Malaysia Development Berhad to be placed under temporary management by international accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, one of the “big four” international audit companies.

He also questioned if 1MDB president Arul Kanda Kandasamy and his management team were conspirators in an international scam to defraud the government-company, and whether Arul Kanda was doing his utmost to cover it up.

Pua said the head of the Treasury, Irwan Serigar, as the new chairman of 1MDB, should sack the entire board if Arul Kanda was not acting in the interest of the shareholder. (The company is wholly-owned by the finance ministry, which is the sole shareholder.) He should also state if 1MDB had been the victim of fraud, and to seek the return of the proceeds.

Pua, who is MP for Petaling Jaya Utara, urged 1MDB not to evade the factual allegations in a law suit by the US Justice Department on Thursday and to answer the simple question if billions had been
misappropriated and embezzled from the company.

1MDB must answer whether it finally accepted that the company had been “a victim of a treasonous fraud” and claimed that a “lorry-load of hard evidence” had been presented.

The suit makes various allegations about money from 1MDB being used to purchase luxury property, a private jet, and to fund the movie Wolf of Wall Street. Three people were named in the suit, which was filed with the US District Court in Los Angeles. It has yet to set dates for hearing evidence to be presented.

Pua said the department had “laid out the entire scam, claiming that 1MDB was a victim of a multi-billion-dollar international fraud” and he asked if Arul Kanda and his team were “still oblivious”.

The Justice Department is seeking to seize property, royalty rights to the Wolf of Wall Street, and other assets valued at US$1 billion which it said was the result of money-laundering.

The department said 1MDB funds had been used to acquire the assets. Four people were mentioned: Jho Low, Penang-born businessman; Riza Aziz, stepson of Najib Razak; and two Abu Dhabi government officials involved in 1MDB investment deals.

Pua questioned the whereabouts of a US$940 million deposit purportedly parked with BSI Bank Singapore, which has since been shut down, and said: “Did (the money) vanish into thin air as well?”

He also questioned the existence of US$1.56 billion which 1MDB had previously said to be held in offshore investments. Pua said the Justice Department had identified these funds as Devonshire,
Enterprise and Cistenique, and asked if they were still in existence.

He asked if 1MDB was still in denial about the fact that the Justice Department and Bank Negara Malaysia had established that Good Star Limited, a company owned by Penang-born businessman Low Taek Jho, had received US$1.03 billion directly from 1MDB, and was not owned by Petrosaudi International Limited as claimed.