26 July 2016

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21 July (Al-Jazeera)

A Malaysian opposition party leader has called on Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down following the lawsuit filed by the US Justice Department to seize $1bn in assets linked to the country’s scandal-plagued 1MDB state investment fund.

The Justice Department said on Wednesday that the assets were “associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated” from 1MDB, and included lavish real estate in Beverly Hills and New York, artwork by Monet and Van Gogh, and a business jet.

“I believe the Malaysian people want Dato’ Sri Najib to go on leave as prime minister so as not to create the perception of abuse of power or process to halt or hinder a full and transparent investigation on this very serious issue,” Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, president of the People’s Justice Party (PKR), said in a statement on Thursday.

Malaysia’s government should allow an independent commission investigate corruption claims outlined by the Justice Department, said Wan Azizah, who is the wife of jailed Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

The lawsuit alleges a complex money laundering scheme that the Justice Department said was intended to enrich top-level officials of 1MDB.

In a press conference in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the 1MDB funds were used as a “personal bank account”.

The fund is owned by the Malaysian government, but none of the lawsuits named Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

However, the case named Riza Aziz, the prime minister’s step-son, as a “relevant individual” in the case.

The lawsuits also named Najib’s friend, Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and Abu Dhabi government officials Khadem al-Qubaisi and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.

Al Jazeera’s correspondent Sohail Rahman, speaking from Kuala Lumpur, said the prime minister’s office issued a statement overnight in response to the allegations.

As the prime minister holds the financial portfolio under which 1MDB operates, and many of his critics say he should have known what was going on “and many actually accuse him of being involved in this whole scenario,” Rahman said.

Ordinary Malaysians will likely be shocked by this US investigation, as the Malaysian government’s own probe of 1MDB has already ended, he said.

“The case in theory has been closed since October when the attorney general here in Malaysia said that there was no wrongdoing, and ordered the Malaysian anti-corruption commission to close the case.”

“However, this re-opens it from, certainly, across the Pacific, where the US now will go forward to try and investigate how these assets were bought,” Rahman said.

In the statement, the prime minister’s office said it would “fully cooperate with any lawful investigation of Malaysian companies or citizens, in accordance with international protocols, as the prime minister has always maintained, if any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception,” he added.

‘Money-laundering scheme’

The 1MDB fund was created in 2009 by the Malaysian government with the goal of promoting economic development projects in the Asian nation.

Instead, officials at the fund diverted more than $3.5bn over the next four years through a web of shell companies and bank accounts in Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the US, according to the justice department complaint.

Federal officials said more than $1bn was laundered into the US for the personal benefit of 1MDB officials and their associates.

The funds were used to pay for luxury real estate in the US and Europe; gambling expenses in Las Vegas casinos; a London interior designer; more than $200m artwork by artists, including Van Gogh and Monet; and for the production of films, including the 2013 Oscar-nominated movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

The complaint said that among those who profited from the scheme was the prime minister’s step-son Aziz, who co-founded Red Granite Pictures, a movie production studio whose films include “The Wolf of Wall Street”.

According to the complaint, 11 wire transfers totaling $64m were used to fund the studio’s operations, including the production of the movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Leslie Caldwell, US assistant attorney general, said at the news conference on Wednesday that neither 1MDB nor the Malaysia people saw “a penny of profit from that film,” or the other assets that were purchased with fund siphoned from 1MDB.

Red Granite said on Wednesday that none of the funding it received four years ago was illegitimate and nothing the company or Riza did was wrong.

Authorities in neighbouring Singapore also announced on Thursday that they seized assets worth $240m in their own investigation of 1MDB-related fund for possible money laundering.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore, as well as the city state’s Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Commercial Affairs Department said their investigation of the funds found “deficiencies” at several major banks, including “undue delay in detecting and reporting suspicious transactions.”

Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Washington DC Kimberly Halkett said the investigation is likely to strain US relations with Malaysia, which President Obama had personally tried to cultivate, having played a round of golf with Najib during a visit to the country in 2014.

26 July 2016

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PUTRAJAYA, July 26 ? Blogger Papa Gomo has to pay RM800,000 in damages to former Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim after losing his final bid to set aside the award.

This was after the Federal Court today dismissed Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris, also known as Papa Gomo’s leave to appeal against the decision of the High Court in awarding the amount to Anwar.

The Court of Appeal had on December 4 last year affirmed the High Court’s ruling.

A three-panel bench chaired by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum rejected the leave application with RM10,000 costs after finding that the appellant’s case had no merit.

Also in the panel were Federal Court judges Tan Sri Hasan Lah and Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim.

The panel made the ruling after hearing submissions from Anwar’s lawyer, Latheefa Koya and counsel Amran Aminuddin who represented Wan Muhammad Azri.

On February 28, 2014, Anwar won his case at the High Court against Wan Muhammad Azri, who was ordered to pay the plaintiff RM800,000 in damages and RM50,000 in cost for linking him to a man in a sex video.

Anwar filed the suit against Wan Muhammad Azri on March 21 2013, seeking RM100 million in damages, alleging that the blogger had posted a series of four defamatory statements and images on his blog dated March 16, 17, 19 and 20, 2013. ? Bernama

 

18 July 2016

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BY A ANANTHALAKSHMI AND SAEED AZHAR (BUSINESSDAY)

18 JULY 2016

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s central bank was scrutinising several banks, including UBS and DBS Group Holdings, to see if they broke rules against money laundering in handling transactions linked to scandal-hit Malaysian state fund 1MDB, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore was looking at several aspects of the banks’ operations, sources said.

Switzerland’s Falcon Private Bank and Coutts International, which is owned by Geneva-based Union Bancaire Privee, were also under review, they said.

Malaysian companies and banks linked to 1MDB are at the centre of corruption and money laundering probes that have led investigators to look at transactions and financial relationships across the globe — from Malaysia to Singapore and the Seychelles, from Abu Dhabi to offshore companies in the Caribbean, and from the US to Switzerland. A Malaysian parliamentary investigation found that $4.2bn of 1MDB’s money was unaccounted for or went to overseas bank accounts whose owners could not be ascertained.

UBS, Coutts and DBS, which is Singapore’s top lender, all declined to comment.

A Zurich-based spokesman for Falcon said: “We have transparently shared our view and have nothing to add.”

Falcon, owned by one of the world’s leading sovereign wealth funds, Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company, has previously said it was in contact with Singapore’s central bank and was co-operating.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore was in talks with several banks and would make an announcement on any punitive action against them after the review was completed, sources said. The full details are not known at this stage.

“It is important for Singapore to be seen to be taking action against any abuse of its private banking sector for money laundering,” said Nizam Ismail, Singapore-based partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing, where he advises on financial services, regulation and compliance.

A spokeswoman for the authority referred Reuters to its statement in March, when it said that “as part of its investigations into possible money laundering and other offences in Singapore, it has been conducting a thorough review of various transactions as well as fund flows through our banking system”.

1MDB referred Reuters to its earlier statements. In May, it said it had not been contacted by any foreign lawful authority on matters relating to the company and that it would co-operate fully with the authorities.

The latest probes follow the authority’s decision in late May to close down the operations of Swiss private bank BSI in Singapore for serious breaches of antimoney laundering rules, the first time in 32 years it has taken such action against a bank.

The authority did not specifically say this related to 1MDB-related transactions, though the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority said at the time that BSI had committed serious breaches of money laundering regulations through business relationships and transactions linked to the corruption scandal surrounding 1MDB.

 

17 July 2016

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Today marks day 523 of Anwar Ibrahim’s imprisonment as a political prisoner.

Newest addition Anwar’s family

On the 4th of June, Nurul Nuha, Anwar’s second daughter gave birth to a healthy baby boy. Although it gave great joy to hear the news of his 8th grandchild, this would be the second time being blessed a grandchild since being separated from his family more than a year ago.

National Security Council bill

On the 7th of June the controversial National Security Council (NSC) bill was gazetted as legislation. The bill was initially passed last December but needed Royal Assent by the King before it becomes law. However in a surprising move the King requested amendments to the law that provides sweeping power to the Prime Minister and members of the security council to declare “Security Zones” which would accord authorities wide powers of arrest, search and seizure without a warrant[1]. This has caused serious concerns among opposition leaders and human rights activist given the track record on human rights violations by the government. The bill automatically becomes gazetted even without Royal Assent after 30 days of presenting it to the King[2].

Anwar continues to be hospitalized

On the 15th of June Anwar was again transferred to the General Hospital of Kuala Lumpur for health checkup on his irregular blood pressure and recurring back and shoulder pain. He was admitted for 5 days where he underwent medical testing and treatment. Following the transfer, Nurul Izzah, daughter of Anwar issued a statement lamenting the inadequate medical care on Anwar. Nurul Izzah questioned “..if the number of treatments given failed to improve his health, can they be considered adequate?[3].

She renewed calls for Anwar to be allowed to travel overseas for medical intervention and treatment, especially on the shoulder surgery that Anwar requires to alleviate the pain on his shoulder.

Lead prosecutor against Anwar appointed as human rights ambassador

Well known lawyer of the ruling party UMNO Shafee Abdullah[4]who contreversially lead the prosecution team against Anwar at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court level was appointed by the Foreign Ministry as Malaysia’s ambassador at large for Human Rights[5].

The announcement was met by criticism over the obvious attempt by the government to mislead especially the international community over their commitment to human rights. Human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy in the statement said “..(it) makes it clear that the government has little to no interest in fulfilling its obligations to defend human rights[6].

Shafee Abdullah is the same lawyer that was recorded in court to be in the house of the Prime Minister Najib Razak while Saiful Bukhari, the accuser in Anwar’s case, was meeting Najib Razak to seek for “scholarship” just days before allegation against Anwar was raised[7]. Anwar’s defense team has used this as a foundation that a political conspiracy exists.

This clear conflict raised many doubts regarding the integrity of the proceeding as Shafee Abdullah was later appointed special prosecuter to lead the case despite having many capable senior prosecuters at the Attorney General’s Chambers office.

500 days of prison

On the 23rd of June another sad milestone was passed as it marks 500 days of imprisonment for Anwar. Friends and family gathered at the residence of Anwar for an event to commemorate the milestone, breaking Ramadan fast together followed by Ramadan night prayers.

That’s all for June’s update. I end this email with a short message from Anwar wishing all his fellow friends and supporters Eid Mubarak. Thank you for your support and as always do keep in touch.

Best

Khairul

27 June 2016

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South China Morning Post- 27 June 2016

Giant video screens lining Malaysia’s ruling-party headquarters flash towering, 40-floor images of a smiling Prime Minister Najib Razak across a corner of the capital, a glaring reminder of who’s in charge.One year after a financial scandal that would have toppled many leaders, Najib is standing taller than ever after smothering investigations, outmanoeuvring opponents, and bolstering his control with a pair of recent election wins.

But the political survival steps he has taken – which include assuming tough new powers and flirting with an Islamist party – are stoking fears for multi-ethnic Malaysia’s already fragile democracy and sectarian relations.

“He called himself a reformist, but has changed into an aspiring dictator,” said Ambiga Sreenevasan, a prominent lawyer and reform advocate. “What changed him, clearly, is 1MDB.”

Last July 2, The Wall Street Journal reported that Najib received a mysterious US$681 million payment, which capped months of allegations that billions were diverted from 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Berhad), an investment fund Najib founded. Other revelations followed, including reports that Najib’s film-producer stepson used 1MDB-related funds to bankroll the Hollywood greedfest The Wolf of Wall Street, and for millions in luxury purchases. Swiss authorities say more than US$4 billion may have been stolen. Najib and 1MDB deny wrongdoing. But Najib has purged ruling-party critics, curbed investigations, and cracked down on media reporting of the affair. With former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim jailed since February 2015 on politically-tinged sodomy charges, Najib now towers over the country.

“Najib’s critics failed to comprehend his resolve at staying in power and the lengths he is prepare to go to,” said Ibrahim Suffian, head of Merdeka Centre, an independent polling firm.

The government recently pushed through a new law allowing a Najib-led council to suspend basic liberties if security is deemed threatened, which the opposition called a “lurch toward dictatorship”. Other proposals would tighten internet controls and limit other legal protections.

“Any remnants of checks and balances are being dismantled by the PM” due to 1MDB, said Eric Paulsen, head of the legal-advocacy group Lawyers for Liberty.

Yet Najib’s electoral fortunes have never looked better as general elections loom by mid-2018, aided by disarray in the once-formidable opposition following Anwar’s jailing. Najib’s United Malays National Organisation [UMNO] has governed since independence in 1957 on a platform of rapid economic growth and special rights for Muslim ethnic Malays, Malaysia’s majority group.

Aided by its deep pockets and loyal Malay support, UMNO’s Barisan Nasional [National Front] ruling coalition notched landslide wins in a May state election and two June parliamentary by-elections that exposed the limits of 1MDB outrage.

“Najib’s standing among Malaysians has gradually improved over the past six months as voter anger over 1MDB and [an unpopular consumption tax] dissipate,” said Suffian, adding that bread-and-butter economic issues matter more.

Najib denies abusing power and recently dismissed the graft allegations as “unprecedented politically-motivated slander” by 90-year-old former premier Mahathir Mohamad, who has led calls for Najib’s removal. Najib’s office did not respond to a request for comment. But Barisan Nasional’s strategy director Abdul Rahman Dahlan dismissed the allegations of 1MDB-spurred repression as “absolute rubbish.”

“The opposition’s problem is they are unable to convince voters they are a viable alternative,” he said.

“When [voters] go to the polls, it is not just about 1MDB.”

In the scandal’s wake, UMNO also has intensified a dalliance with the country’s conservative Muslim party, refusing to denounce its proposal for harsh sharia law in a northern state.

The sharia bid has scant hope of succeeding, and analysts said UMNO is merely playing politics to solidify Muslim support and distract from 1MDB. But the Islamist tilt has unsettled many who view Malaysia’s treasured religious moderation as under threat.

“I’m very worried,” said Bob Broadfoot, head of Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy. “[Najib] is changing UMNO in ways that I fear could make it more Islamic and weaken the government’s support among non-Malays. This is going to strain racial relations much more.”

Fringe Muslim elements disgusted by 1MDB may also abandon political parties and turn to extremism, he said. A half-dozen countries including the United States have launched 1MDB-related probes, but few believe big fish will be caught, citing the carefully constructed complexity of 1MDB fund flows.

Najib “will get away with it,” said Broadfoot.

But he said the allegations of fraud and embezzlement involving state-linked entities may make foreign investors think twice, at a time when Malaysia needs investment to buffer global economic headwinds.

“That’s going to cost Malaysia,” Broadfoot said.

25 June 2016

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Kepada rakyat Malaysia, juga teman-teman pembangkang seperjuangan:

Walaupun dari sudut kecil di dalam penjara ini, saya tahu bahawa keputusan pilihanraya kecil baru-baru ini telah mengecewakan ramai. Saya tahu ramai yang menaruh harapan pada pembangkang untuk menyelamatkan Malaysia dari cengkaman rejim yang menindas, korup dan bankrap moralnya. Malaysia tidak punyai harapan untuk membina masa depan yang lebih baik buat rakyatnya atau untuk dihormati dunia di bawah rejim sedia ada, dengan seorang perdana menteri yang berada ditengah-tengah skandal kewangan yang mempunyai implikasi yang sangat luas dan melibatkan pelbagai negara.

Parti-parti pembangkang mesti mengambil iktibar dan bermuhasabah di atas keputusan PRK ini, dan memahami dengan amat mendalam kelemahan-kelemahan kita. Sekarang bukanlah masa untuk mencari alasan atau menuding jari.

Kita perlu sentiasa ingat bahawa kita mempunyai satu kewajipan untuk menjadi alternatif tulen buat rakyat. Ketepikan perbezaan dan perbalahan. Sampaikan keluhan dan rungutan dengan saluran yang betul; duduklah bersama untuk mengatasi dan menyelesaikan masalah.

Kebajikan rakyat dan negara lah yang paling utama; dan kita berkhidmat untuk rakyat. Kita perlu kalahkan BN dalam PRU14, kita perlu berjaya demi Malaysia!

Mereka yang tidak percaya ini boleh dilakukan dalam PRU yang akan datang, adalah salah. Tetapi untuk melaksanakannya, kita perlu bersatu. Ini bukanlah perkara yang mudah; kita perlu hadapi keseluruhan kekuatan dan taktik BN yang tidak demokratik. Tetapi usaha kita ini murni, walhal mereka hanya memegang kuasa demi kuasa. Jika kita bersatu demi rakyat, kita akan berjaya.

Message from Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on the recent by-election results.

To the Malaysian public, and my friends and colleagues in the opposition:

Even from this prison, I know that the results of the recent by-elections have disappointed many. I know the public have pinned their hopes upon the Opposition, to save Malaysia from the current oppressive, corrupt and morally bankrupt regime. Malaysia has no hope of making a better future for its people or of gaining the respect of the world under the current regime, whose prime minister is in the centre of a financial scandal of worldwide reach and implication.

The Opposition must look at this electoral outcome with humility, and take a hard look at our weaknesses. This is no time for excuses or blame.

Remember constantly that it is our moral duty to provide a genuine alternative to the people. Put aside all differences, put aside internecine quarrels. Bring up grievances in the proper forum; sit together and resolve matters.

Only the welfare of the rakyat and the country matters; and we exist to serve the Rakyat. We must defeat the BN in the 14th GE, we must come through for the sake of Malaysia!

Those who now think that this can’t be done in the next GE, are wrong. But to do so, we must all pull together. It is not an easy task; we face the entrenched power and undemocratic tactics of the BN. But we have a noble cause, they merely cling to power for powers sake. If we stand united and determined for the sake of the Rakyat, we will prevail.

12 June 2016

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Today marks day 489 of Anwar Ibrahim in prison. In May 2016 the trend of gross abuse of power by the Malaysian government continues while Anwar remains languished in prison for daring to fight for a change.

Suppression continues

The Malaysian authorities continue its crackdown on dissent. The Malaysian police are targeting billboards that have been erected nationwide calling for the release of Anwar.  Besides removing the billboards by force, they have also proceeded to investigate key figures using the draconian The Sedition Act for erecting the billboards. Amongst those investigated for the “crime” of erecting the billboards is the current Chief Minister of Selangor Dato Seri Azmin Ali.

Besides that the police are also investigating Nurul Izzah Anwar and Nurul Nuha Anwar, Anwar’s daughter and other party leaders for participating in a peaceful rally outside the Sg Buloh prison in conjunction with 1-year anniversary of Anwar in prison. They have been summoned by the police to have their statement recorded and are waiting to see if any official charges will be made.

The worrying trend of disregard of freedom of expression prompted Amnesty International to issue a statement late May calling “on the Malaysian government to end its blatant disregard for the right to freedom of expression and peaceful public assembly. The organisation also urges the government to take immediate steps to repeal or amend repressive laws including the Sedition Act 1948, the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 so as to bring them into line with international human rights law and standards”[i]

Cartoonist Wins International Award

Local cartoonist activist Zunar was awarded the 2016 International Editorial Cartoons Prize by the Kofi Annan Foundation in Geneva. Through his cartoons, Zunar is currently facing 9 counts on sedition and faces the possibility of 43 years in prison for courageously using his pen to question the excesses and corrupt practices of the ruling government. Among the charges was for his critic of the Federal Court decision against Anwar through his tweets and his constant usage of his cartoons to highlight many injustices including the case of Anwar.

After the award Zunar said, “Talent is not a gift, but a responsibility. It is a duty for me as a cartoonist to use the art as a weapon to fight unjust rulers. Fear and intimidation are the potent tools being used by the regime to scare the people. I believe, strokes of art can lead the people to cross the line of fear.”[ii]

Health

On the 9th of May Anwar was transferred to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital for monitoring for 5 days due to erratic and high blood pressure. He was later transferred back to prison after his blood pressure stabilizes but his health remains a concern and requires constant monitoring. This marks the 4th time that Anwar has been transferred to the hospital in recent months.

White Paper

On the 23rd of May, Anwar’s legal team released a White Paper detailing the history of the Malaysian government’s persecution of Anwar[iii]. Please use the report to spread the information on Anwar’s case.

Case Appeal In Court

The Malaysian Federal Court rejected an appeal by Anwar to include new evidence appeared recently. Malaysia’s former national Criminal Investigation Department chief in a court appearance for another case testified that he was instructed in 1998 by the former Attorney General to fabricate evidence against Anwar. This new evidence would prove the validity Anwar’s assertion that there has been a deliberate political conspiracy against him plotted by the government. Anwar has since appealed against the decision.

I end this update with a warm message from Anwar, wishing everyone a blessed Ramadan, the holiest month in the Muslim calendar. Ramadan is a month we reconnect to our almighty lord Allah; by renewing kinship, remembering the less fortunate through fasting and charity and self reflection.

It will be the second Ramadan away from his family for Anwar since taken to prison. Take care and till next time, please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

[i] http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/malaysian-authorities-continue-to-show-blatant-disregard-for-freedom-of-exp
[ii] https://www.zunar.my/news/zunar-awarded-2016-cartooning-peace-award/
[iii] http://perseus-strategies.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Anwar-White-Paper-5.23.16.pdf

25 May 2016

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The Edge Markets-  Chan Chao Peh (24 May 2016)

Yeo Jia Wei, the former wealth planner from BSI Bank linked to the widening investigations on 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), has been slapped with two additional charges in court on May 24.

The 33-year-old, who has been in remand for 38 days, now faces a total of nine charges. The court is now reviewing if he will be granted bail, and will make its decision known on Thursday.

Both the eighth and ninth charge alleged that Yeo, via a vehicle owned by him called Bridgerock Investment Inc, cheated his former employer back in 2013.

Second solicitor general Kwek Mean Luck, in arguing that Yeo should not be granted bail, stressed that Yeo had tried tampering with witnesses. Specifically, on March 27 this year, Yeo met Goh Sze-Wei Samuel and Kevin Michael Swampillai, Yeo’s former manager at BSI, that the time had come to “collaborate” stories to provide a “consistent response” to Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) if questioned.

Harry Elias, founder of the law firm bearing his name, made a rare appearance in court today. He stood in for Philip Fong, who was Yeo’s lawyer. Fong was overseas and couldn’t make it in court today.

He described the 38 days in which Yeo has been in remand as “simply unacceptable”, and offered suggestions that Yeo be allowed bail at an amount ranging from $200,000 to $400,000. He also suggested that Yeo to report to the investigators daily and that he is not a flight risk.

“I’ve not much experience in criminal law, and not much experience in bailing,” says the 79-year-old who has been in practice since 1965. “This is quite possibly the single longest an accused person has been remanded.”

Elias questioned the purpose of such a lengthy period of remand. “It is only to satisfy themselves that they call the shots,” he said, referring to the investigators.

Furthermore, the defence team has only thus far met Yeo for just over an hour. Given the complexity of the case, Elias described that as akin to playing $1 million poker game with only 10 cents in the pocket. “That’s not fair to the system, the accused, the lawyers and the court.”

Elias also took issue with the way Yeo has been described by the prosecution — in tampering with witnesses — as “ever-rampaging”.

In response, Kwek said Elias has “overly dramatised” the risks that Yeo is posing if offered bail. He stressed that Yeo has shown no compunction in perverting justice, having contacted no less than five witnesses on various occasions.

For example, after Yak Yew Chee, the former BSI senior private banker was found to be involved earlier in February, Yeo sent Yak via Telegram, the encrypted messaging system, messages such as: “Why did you do such a stupid thing?”; “What have you gained. You have gained nothing but lose so much”; “Anyway they are very unhappy with you.”

“They”, according to Kwek, are believed to be referring to the BSI clients. “The above communications unmistakably show that the accused has no compunctions perverting the course of justice. He was attempting to influence key witnesses to investigations even before he was formally arrested by the authorities,” added Kwek.

Kwek also referred to an announcement by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on May 24 to shut down BSI here for “serious breaches of anti-money laundering requirements, poor management oversight of the bank’s operations, and gross misconduct by some of the bank’s staff.”

That includes Yeo, Yak, and four others: Hans Peter Brunner, the former CEO; Raj Sriram, the former Deputy CEO; Kevin Michael Swampillai, Head of Wealth Management Services and one of whom was named contacted by Yeo; and Seah Yew Foong Yvonne, former Senior Private Banker.

In addition, MAS is already underway in “conducting supervisory reviews of several other financial institutions and bank accounts through which suspicious and unusual transactions have taken place. MAS will not hesitate to take actions against these institutions if they are found to have breached regulations or fallen short of expectations,” the regulator added.

In its statement today, 1MDB “has not been contacted by any foreign lawful authority on matters relating to the company. 1MDB remains committed to fully cooperating” with them.

“The Prosecution is working with the CAD to review the facts presented by MAS. The facts indicate that the accused has played a central part in the activities that has led to the response of the MAS. His deplorable conduct and troubling attempts to tamper with witnesses indicate that releasing him on bail will jeopardise not only CAD’s on-going investigations but also the investigations into the other individuals named in the MAS media release,” said Kwek.

Kwek acknowledged that the investigations are complex. In seeking denial of bail, Kwek said that the prosecution is ready to ask for standalone proceedings, by getting trial on-going for only for certain charges, specifically on the 3rd and 5th charges of tampering with witnesses.

“This is a very serious breach in our financial sector. The reason why we are taking these unusual steps, simply because the accused has taken unusual steps,” he said.

25 May 2016

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Malaysiakini- Hafiz Yatim (25 May 2016)

 

The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal by Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia which was ordered to pay RM200,000 to former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim over a defamation suit.

However, the court ordered the interest to be charged from the date of judgment and not from the date of filing.

 In his decision, Justice Prasad Sandosham said: “We are not with you (Utusan‘s) counsel.”

He also ordered Utusan to pay RM5,000 costs.

The other judges with him are Justice Zabariah Mohd Yusof and Justice Asmabi Mohamad.

Anwar won his suit against Utusan and its chief editor Abdul Aziz Ishak in 2013, following the daily’s publication, citing his interview with the BBC in 2012, that he supported lesbians, gays, transexuals and bisexuals.

Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Hue Siew Kheng ordered the daily to RM200,000 in damages.

24 May 2016

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The Edge Markets- 23 May 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) today held an update call for the holders of its US dollar denominated bond following the default on the US$1.75 billion (RM7.15 billion) 1MDB Energy (Langat) Ltd papers (Langat Notes).

“During the call 1MDB provided a current update on the status of the bonds and outlined the next steps of the process.

“It discussed the background to 1MDB’s decision not to make the interest payment on the Langat Notes and updated (the bondholders) on the progress 1MDB has made on its rationalisation plan,” 1MDB said in a statement.

The troubled state investment fund said last month that a US$50 million interest payment due to holders of the Langat Notes was not made due to a dispute with International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC).

The dispute between the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund and 1MDB came about after at least US$3.5 billion that 1MDB was supposed to pay to IPIC’s subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS had “gone missing”.

The money was instead diverted to a British Virgin Islands company bearing a similar name to Aabar Investments PJS, but having no relation to IPIC.

1MDB said today that it had reiterated at the update call of its commitment to working openly with IPIC to resolve the dispute.

“1MDB is (also) committed to an open dialogue with (the bondholders) throughout this process and there will be further update calls held in due course,” it added.

24 May 2016

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Hollywoodreporter- 17 May 2016 (Patrick Brzeski and Alex Ritman)

As mounting allegations of corruption continue to engulf The Wolf of Wall Street producer Red Granite, figures from the Malaysian film industry have a message for the company’s Hollywood collaborators: Please, stop.

The morning after Woody Allen’s Cafe Society opened the Cannes Film Festival Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal published the latest in a series of reports implicating Red Granite in an alleged corruption scandal of historic proportions. As much as $7 billion is estimated to have gone missing from a state fund set up in 2009 to benefit the Malaysian people.

Founded by Riza Aziz, the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, Red Granite is alleged to have received $238 million of siphoned state funds, some of which it then used to bankroll Martin Scorsese’s Wolf, starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

A globe-spanning FBI investigation into the alleged misappropriation is ongoing — as are Red Granite’s glamorous film business activities. The company is stationed in Cannes aboard a rented luxury yacht named Indulgence of Poole, from which it has been holding sales meetings for its next film, Papillon, starring Charlie Hunnam.

Red Granite has said it is cooperating with all inquiries and “to its knowledge, none of the funding received by Red Granite was in any way irregular or illegitimate.”

The Hollywood Reporter reached out to several prominent figures from the Malaysia film community to get their thoughts on the Red Granite situation.

Prominent Malaysian filmmaker and political activist Hishamuddin Rais, speaking to THR by phone from Kuala Lumpur, said Hollywood directors and producers should “be more concerned” where the money invested in their films was coming from, saying there was a “process of money laundering” going on.

On May 16, Rais stood trial in Kuala Lumpur on sedition charges stemming from a speech he gave criticizing Malaysia’s controversial 2013 elections, which restored Prime Minister Razak’s right-wing Barisan Nasional party to power. Public discourse in Malaysia is closely monitored and controlled; the country ranks 148th of 182 countries — behind nations such as Afghanistan and Myanmar — in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.

“Having seen him rub shoulders with the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio is exciting to some extent,” said a veteran Malaysian film buyer in Cannes when asked about Aziz. “But we do ask where the hell he got his money. No one really knows yet what happened, but the links appear to be there and there are questions marks all over the place.” (The individual requested not to be named; when THR asked whether such statements could jeopardize the individual’s personal safety, the person replied: “Are you kidding me? If I shared [this news] on Facebook it would probably go viral in Malaysia and I wouldn’t be able to go home.”)

Contacted by phone in Kuala Lumpur, an influential Malaysian producer urged Hollywood companies to consider what their ongoing cooperation with Red Granite means in the bigger picture.

“Instead of asking Malaysians how they feel about this news, I would like to ask film producers there how they feel about it,” the producer said. “As long as Hollywood continues to work with them, they will retain an air of invincibility here — it sends a signal. It tells people that nobody cares and they will just get away with it.”

Nurul Izzah, a sitting member of Malaysia’s parliament and the daughter of jailed opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, added: “I can’t believe Hollywood can justify and validate these ongoing allegations by shamelessly supporting [Red Granite], whether by investing in [their] movies or buying rights.”

Red Granite’s highest-profile collaborator to date, DiCaprio, has yet to publicly comment on the scandal. According to a source in Cannes (who didn’t want to be named), Red Granite has told buyers privately that DiCaprio is attached to star in a forthcoming George Washington biopic, The General, which the company is developing. Red Granite has denied that he is involved.

Regardless, voices in Malaysia have a message for the star. “Before you go into any project, you must also, Mr. Leonardo DiCaprio, make sure you know where the money is coming from,” Rais told THR on the eve of his trial.

“If he is speaking to the United Nations on global warming, he should also be speaking about [this], because global warming is interconnected with corruption in third-world countries,” he added.

THR reached out to DiCaprio’s publicist.

The full statement from Red Granite reads:

“Red Granite has received hundreds of millions of dollars in financings over the last six years from a variety of sources, including top-tier U.S. commercial and investment banks. During this time, Red Granite’s films have generated close to $1 billion in worldwide box office receipts. To its knowledge, none of the funding received by Red Granite was in any way irregular or illegitimate. Red Granite is cooperating fully with all inquiries and is confident that when the facts come out, it will be clear that neither Riza Aziz nor Red Granite has done anything wrong. In the meantime, Mr. Aziz and Red Granite will continue moving forward with exciting new projects.”

24 May 2016

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International Business Times- 19 May 2016 (Samhati Bhattacharjya)

Jailed Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim’s family has lodged an appeal against the prison director’s decision to deny physical contact during jail visits.

Anwar, his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, their four children and four grandchildren filed the application on Wednesday for a judicial review of the decision by Sungai Buloh prison authorities.

The family named Sungai Buloh prison director Commissioner-General of Prisons and Home Minister as respondents, the court papers showed.

The application filed by counsel N Surendran and Latheefa Koya seeks an order quashing the prison director’s decision that bans physical contact between Anwar and his family members.

Anwar claimed that under the prison rules he was allowed visits from his family once in every three weeks and the communication with them was done via a telephone. “During these visits, my family is made to sit across from me. We are separated by a glass partition. This partition allows no physical contact between myself and my family,” said Anwar.

Anwar and his family members have said that the denial of physical contact was unnecessary, cruel and oppressive.

Anwar is serving a five years’ jail sentence after he was found guilty of sodomising his former aide, Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

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