GE14: Rakyat will decide if DoJ suits matter, Hisham says

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KUALA LUMPUR: The public will decide if the allegations made by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) are strong enough reasons for them to back away from Barisan Nasional (BN).

But according to Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein, what the people want is to see their well-being taken care of regardless of what national issues are being played up.

“The public will decide … We’ll wait until the (14th) General Election,” told a press conference at the Putra World Trade Center here today.

“But I told all the party’s division secretaries just now that in the end, the public wants to see their well-being taken care of at the grassroots level.

“The DoJ issue is out of our control, but at least we can address those on the ground.”

The effectiveness of certain quarters’ spin of the DoJ’s allegations depends very much on BN’s method of approaching the public, the Sembrong MP added.

He then cited his own constituency as an example, saying Felda settlers there were more concerned about wild elephants destroying their crops.

“They just want us to take care of them.”

Hishammuddin also said that if the voters decided to give BN the mandate to lead them for five more years, then the DoJ should “stop making statements” against the government.

“Or else we will show that they are irresponsible and in the end, DoJ’s credibility will be affected,” he said.

In its latest court filings in California, the DoJ is seeking to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets, including artworks, jewellery and film rights they claim have been paid for with funds allegedly siphoned from 1MDB.

The assets named in the applications included the film rights to two comedies, “Dumb and Dumber To”, starring Jim Carrey, and “Daddy’s Home”, with Will Ferrell. Both productions were allegedly financed with millions of dollars from the state-owned investment fund.

Last July’s civil forfeiture suit sought to recover all the assets including but not limited to the Park Lane hotel in New York, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills, condominiums in New York, a private jet, expensive works of art, as well as the financing of Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.

With Thursday’s court filings, the total value of the assets sought by the DoJ increased to US$1.8 billion (RM7.7 billion).

The DoJ charged that from 2009 through 2015, more than US$4.5 billion (RM19 billion) belonging to 1MDB had been diverted by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.