Malaysia's dismissal of DoJ suits 'troubling and unacceptable', says Bar Council 

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali exhibits money flow charts during a press conference in Putrajaya, Malaysia on January 26, 2016, clearing Prime Minister Najib Razak of any criminal wrongdoing in the 1MDB financial controversy. – EPA pic, June 23, 2017.

MALAYSIAN authorities should conduct an immediate probe into the US Department of Justice’s “grave allegations” of kleptocracy, the Bar Council said today, adding the manner in which the civil assets forfeiture suits were dismissed was “troubling and unacceptable”.

The Malaysian Bar said the latest civil suit, together with the two suits filed on July 20 last year and on June 7, sought to forfeit almost US$1.7 billion (RM7.3 billion) in assets and represented the largest action ever brought by the DoJ under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

“The allegations contained in the DoJ’s court filings implicate officials of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), their family members and other associates – including an individual described as ‘Malaysian Official 1’, who has since been acknowledged to be the prime minister – of wrongdoing.

“In view of the gravity of the claims, the manner in which the civil suits have been downplayed, dismissed, and even denounced by Malaysian authorities, is troubling and unacceptable,” said Bar Council president George Varughese in a statement today.

On June 16, the DoJ filed a civil assets forfeiture suit to seize more assets including a US$165 million yacht owned by financier Low Taek Jho, and a US$27.3 million diamond necklace allegedly bought with funds stolen from 1MDB. 

Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali had called the latest filing a repeat of last year’s US$1 billion suit.

He stated that his office had yet to be provided with proof that money had been siphoned from state fund 1MDB.

Apandi had also last year cleared Prime Minister Najib Razak of any wrongdoing in the matter of the 1MDB financial scandal.

Varughese said although the DoJ’s allegations are not proven until judgment is awarded in its favour, it is critical that the Malaysian government investigate the allegations “comprehensively and objectively, based on evidence”

This, he said, should be done immediately in the interest of transparency, accountability and good governance.

Without having performed such an investigation, it is premature for the government to exonerate any individual or company of any wrongdoing, Varughese added. – June 23, 2017.

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