MACC not updated by FBI on 1MDB probe, says minister

Paul-Low-Seng-Kuan-1mdb-sprm-malaysia-1KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has not received any information on a written declaration by a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent pertaining to the United States Department of Justice’s (DoJ) civil suit linked to 1MDB.

“MACC has not received any information from the FBI on the written declaration by Robert Heuchling, an agent of the FBI,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low said in a written reply in the Dewan Rakyat.

He was responding to a question from R Sivarasa (PKR-Subang), who had asked the prime minister to state if the MACC had opened investigation papers following Heuchling’s declaration.

In September, Reuters reported that Heuchling, had in a written declaration to the court, said individuals otherwise willing to provide information on the case have also told investigators that they were afraid that they would “place the safety and security of both themselves and their families at serious risk”.

This was further emphasised in an opinion piece by Paul Wolfowitz that was published on Newsweek in mid-September. Wolfowitz was the US deputy secretary of defence under George W Bush (2001-2005), and was then appointed World Bank president.

“Just last week, in the latest development in the 1MDB case, FBI special agent Robert Heuchling asserted in a filing in court in Los Angeles that ‘identifying witnesses (in the case) could result in intimidation or threaten their safety,’ citing ‘reports of local officials and politicians who have been arrested for purportedly disclosing information linked to 1MDB’.

“Heuchling also cited Malaysian press reports from Aug 30 that said ‘the driver of former Malaysian attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail was shot in public as a possible warning against assisting the US government in the case’,” Wolfowitz said in his commentary.

The DoJ has 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.

The fund is also the subject of money laundering probes in at least six countries. Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who set up 1MDB in 2009 and served as chairperson of its advisory board until last year, has denied any wrongdoing.

Najib was also cleared by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali of any wrongdoing in an investigation into US$681 million, allegedly from 1MDB, which was deposited into his personal bank accounts in Malaysia in early 2013. The funds were said to be a donation from a member of the Saudi royal family.

Low did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the FBI filing. The former Transparency-Internationl Malaysia chief has also previously denied there was any wrongdoing in the 1MDB case, saying that the DoJ’s actions were “a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case”.