1MDB: Why the silence, defend nation’s honour, Pua tells Najib

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PETALING JAYA: Tony Pua has called for Prime Minister Najib Razak to “defend Malaysia’s honour” against remarks by the United States Attorney-General Jeff Sessions as it could have a great impact on our economy.

Referring to Sessions’ speech at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery hosted by the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Washington on Monday, the Petaling Jaya Utara MP also questioned the lack of response from the PM and Putrajaya.

“Sessions called the Malaysian 1MDB scandal ‘kleptocracy at its worst’ and said that allegedly corrupt officials and their associates had reportedly used 1MDB funds for a ‘lavish spending spree’, such as US$200 million for property, US$130 million on art pieces and a US$265 million yacht.

“The question now is whether Najib will just let a foreign country disparage and destroy Malaysia’s international reputation and credibility? Is he not going to speak out to defend Malaysia’s honour?” Pua said in a statement.

The DAP national publicity secretary added that the allegations by Sessions were compounded by the fact that it was made to an international audience.

“Does Najib think that the US Attorney-General’s speech will have no impact on Malaysia’s attractiveness as a destination for tourism and investment?” he asked.

In his speech, which was published on the US Department of Justice’s website, Sessions said 1MDB officials had allegedly laundered more than US$4.5 billion in funds “through a complex web of opaque transactions and fraudulent shell companies with bank accounts in countries ranging from Switzerland and Singapore to Luxembourg and the United States”.

“Today, the US DoJ is working to provide justice to the victims of this alleged scheme,” the former Republican senator had said.

Pua said Najib had no choice now but to give a stern response to these allegations involving a state-owned investment fund which he had founded soon after becoming prime minister in 2009.

“We call upon Najib to summon the United States ambassador to express in the harshest possible terms our protest towards all the allegations made by the US attorney-general.

“In fact, he should immediately file an official complaint with his golf-buddy, President Donald Trump and demand an apology from the US government,” Pua said.

Foreign powers sabotaging economy

He added that Najib could then even use the opportunity to address the Umno general assembly later this week and speak of how he had responded to Sessions’ remarks.

“He could boast to his faithful that he has taken the firmest possible action against foreign powers bent on sabotaging Malaysia’s economy and progress.

“That is, unless what Sessions had stated was the inconvenient truth for Najib and his administration?

“Is that the reason for the continued silence so far from Najib and the government, in the face of disparaging comments against Malaysia’s reputation and credibility by a top foreign government leader?” Pua asked.

The DoJ had 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.

In court filings in California on June 5 this year, the DoJ sought to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets, including art works, jewellery, a luxury yacht and film rights purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.

The action followed the DoJ’s civil forfeiture suit in June 2016 which 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 and expensive works of art, as well as finances related to Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Najib, who until last year was the chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board, has denied any wrongdoing and was cleared by Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Both Najib and Apandi have slammed the US forfeiture actions, suggesting that they are politically motivated.

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