Former president indicted, assets frozen

Cristina Kirchner, the former president of Argentina, has been charged and had her financial assets frozen by a court over a currency trade which lost the country billions of dollars.

It is the first charge to be levelled against Ms Kirchner, the rabble-rousing, anti-British former leader who divided Argentina into passionate supporters or avid detractors of her highly personal style of leadership.

She is accused of overseeing an operation by the central bank to sell “dollar futures” – contracts to sell the national currency, the peso, at a future date – at an artificially low price in the final months of her presidency last year.

The charges levelled against the former president, her economy minister, the former head of the central bank and 12 members of its board do not make clear who is thought to have benefited from the trade.

But they allege that it was carried out following direct instructions from Ms Kirchner to the minister, Axel Kicillof.

The case is not the first that Ms Kirchner is facing. She has also been named as a suspect in a corruption and money laundering case involving a friend of her husband, Nestor Kirchner, her predecessor as president.

 

source: Telegraph UK

Posted in jijik

1MDB “relying entirely on Malaysian government” to cover debts

“[Najib] can no longer remain silent on this matter, this is the single largest default by any government subsidiary ever in the history of Malaysia,” says opposition MP Tony Pua as the world watches 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) bring the country to its knees.

This week, the debt-ridden Malaysian strategic development fund officially defaulted on a bond. It missed a $50 million interest payment, causing a cross-default on its 5 billion ringgit ($1.28 billion) sukuk – an Islamic bond – due in 2039, and a 2.4 billion ringgit sukuk due between 2021 and 2024.

And according to Tony Pua, there are, “obvious admissions by 1MDB that it will be relying entirely on the Malaysian government to bail out 1MDB on its burgeoning debt crisis.

“The event of default has been triggered which means that all bond holders will now have the absolute option to call on the Malaysian Government to pay up for its debts.

“Najib must provide a full and satisfactory explanation on the financial disaster taking place before our eyes and outline the steps that will be taken to remedy the situation.

..

In one of the most low-key of the current investigations, the US Justice Department’s “kleptocracy asset-recovery unit” is looking at allegations of embezzlement, says Reuters.

Add to that, US prosecutors recently subpoenaed Tim Leissner. He is the former Goldman Sachs banker who oversaw bond sales for 1MDB, and the FBI in New York is apparently probing whether any US laws were broken in his dealings.

…Although it admittedly put its own capital at risk, the American investment bank earned commissions and expenses of nearly $600 million from 1MDB for issuing bonds. That is more than 9% of the proceeds and well above what the industry might expect.

But another $52.4 million interest payment is due on 11 May. And the market remains nervous – a sukuk bond issue last week came in at an unimpressive 3.8% yield.

If the fallout from this debt default widens, and 1MDB bond holders come knocking, then a bailout from the government simply cannot be ruled out. Malaysia just cannot afford the risk of investors going cold when the government asks the market to raise capital.

Perhaps a bailout is the only way to save Malaysia and its reputation. And yes, it might well save the country’s blushes, but reaching into the people’s pockets might finally also sink Najib.

source: Asean Today

Posted in BN government, jijik, najib

Malaysia Prime Minister’s Confidant Had Central Role at Troubled 1MDB Fund

In March 2013, a young Malaysian financier sent a heads-up to an employee at a Kuala Lumpur bank that “681 American pies” would soon be arriving from overseas.

The sender, Jho Low, emphasized the need for secrecy, according to a transcript of BlackBerry instant messages reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The employee, he wrote, should tell the bank’s chief executive that “PM” didn’t want his name, address or identity-card number to appear on the transaction.

Within days, $681 million arrived in two transfers at AmBank Bhd. to be deposited in the personal account of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, according to documents seen by the Journal.

Global investigators believe those transfers represent a portion of the money diverted from a Malaysian state economic-development fund called 1MDB over several years, according to people familiar with probes in two countries. As they dig deeper, investigators have increased their estimates of siphoned funds to as much as $6 billion, a sharp increase from a few months ago, said a person familiar with one country’s probe.

…Mr. Najib has said he did nothing wrong and derived no personal gain from transfers into his account. Earlier this year, Malaysia’s attorney general said the $681 million deposited in the prime minister’s account was a legal donation from a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family, most of which was later returned, and cleared Mr. Najib of wrongdoing.

AmBank didn’t respond to a request for comment.

A year later, Aabar and 1MDB entered into their own arrangement. Aabar’s parent, an Abu Dhabi sovereign-wealth fund, guaranteed bonds issued by 1MDB. In return, 1MDB agreed to make a payment to Aabar as collateral for the risk, according to 1MDB financial statements.

Rather than send money to Aabar, however, the 1MDB fund ended up transferring $3.5 billion to a different company with a name nearly identical to Aabar’s, according to the report by Malaysia’s parliamentary committee.

Some of that money in turn was transferred, via intermediaries, to a shell company called Tanore Finance Corp., registered in the British Virgin Islands, investigators in two countries believe.

The beneficial owner of Tanore when it was first set up was Tan Kim Loong, a young Malaysian business associate of Mr. Low’s, according to people familiar with the matter. Attempts to reach Mr. Tan were unsuccessful.

Global investigators believe it was from Tanore that $681 million was transferred to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib’s accounts at AmBank in March 2013, according to the people familiar with the investigations.

Restricted access

In all, more than $1 billion was deposited in the prime minister’s accounts over several years, including $200 million from a Saudi individual and the Saudi finance ministry, according to Malaysian investigative documents. Last week, the kingdom’s foreign minister told a TV interviewer he was aware of a Saudi donation, without giving details such as the donor, date or size.

Later, Mr. Najib sent millions of dollars from the account to local politicians ahead of national elections in the spring of 2013, which his party narrowly won. Mr. Low helped campaign in Penang, his home state, and directed how the political financing was spent, according to a politician in Malaysia’s ruling coalition.

The prime minister, over a few years, also spent at least $15 million of money linked to 1MDB on personal expenses, including jewelry and clothes, according to bank records reviewed by the Journal.

source: Wall Street Journal

Posted in jijik, najib

WSJ’s 1MDB story finalist for Pulitzer

As for WSJ, 10 articles written by journalists Tom Wright, Bradley Hope, Simon Clark Mia Lamar and James Hookway on 1MDB from June 18 to December 28, 2015 were on joint nomination for “masterful reporting that exposed corruption at the highest levels of a fragile democracy, leading to Malaysia’s Watergate.”
In a letter to the judges, WSJ had said that its coverage of Malaysia exposed in painstaking detail a major political and financial scandal that has shaken one of the world’s most entrenched ruling parties.
“The story became Malaysia’s Watergate, with secret payments, missing money and a brass-knuckle political cover-up.
“A team of 10 Journal reporters in seven countries, spearheaded by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, spent six months untangling a giant financial web centered on 1MDB.
“They combed through thousands of pages of financial records and government documents and tracked down dozens of local Malaysian officials to prove that money from 1MDB was used for political campaigning.
“They followed the money trail from Malaysia to the Middle East, Switzerland, Australia and the US to unravel a series of complex transactions that involved a politically connected Malaysian conglomerate, charities controlled by the prime minister, Swiss private banks, offshore shell companies and a government investment fund in Abu Dhabi.”
The letter further said that the reporters pursued the story at considerable risk as Malaysia has a track record of severe harassment and intimidation of the government’s political opponents and the media.

source: Berita Daily

Posted in BN, jijik, najib

Malaysia fund 1MDB’s payment to Abu Dhabi fund IPIC may have ended up with stepson of Najib Razak

The trail of bread crumbs from a troubled Malaysian state investment fund took another twist Tuesday when Swiss authorities said some of the money ended up in the movie business.

On Monday, an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund, International Petroleum Investment Co. (IPIC), and its subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS, said that they never received $3.5 billion in payments from troubled 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The payments were related to a guarantee for a bond placed by Goldman Sachs.

Instead, the payments appear to have been sent to a nearly identically named firm registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Aabar Investments PJS Ltd.

Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General said on Tuesday that as part of its criminal investigation of suspected embezzlement from 1MDB, it was extending its probe to two former officials in charge of Abu Dhabi sovereign funds.

“The Swiss authorities have elements in hand allowing them to suspect that the amounts paid in connection with this guarantee were not returned to the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund that supported the commercial risk,” the Swiss statement said. “To the contrary, these funds would have benefited others, particularly two public officials concerned as well as a company related to the motion picture industry. A former 1MDB body, already indicted in the Swiss proceedings has also benefited from these amounts.”

Earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing global investigators, that much of the financing for the Leonardo DiCaprio movie “Wolf of Wall Street” originated from 1MDB. The investigators said that the movie’s $100 million budget came from a company called Red Granite Pictures, which is led by Riza Aziz, the step-son of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, the WSJ reported.

Additionally, the United Arab Emirates’ central bank has ordered a freeze on the assets of Khadem Al Qubaisi, formerly the managing director of IPIC, and former Aabar CEO Mohamed Badawy, banking sources told Reuters last week. The reason for the freeze was unclear, Reuters said.

Swiss authorities asked Singapore and Luxembourg for “mutual legal assistance” in the matter. In January, the Swiss authorities said in a statement that Malaysia had been asked for legal assistance over around $4 billion that may have been misappropriated from Malaysian state enterprises in four instances over 2009-2013.

On Monday, 1MDB said in a statement that it was surprised by IPIC’s statement denying ownership of Aabar BVI. 1MDB said its own records show “documentary evidence” of Aabar BVI’s ownership, but the Malaysian fund didn’t provide more detail beyond adding that the agreement was negotiated with Khadem and Badawy.

The 1MDB board is headed by Najib, who has been plagued by WSJ reports that as much as $700 million passed from 1MDB to his personal bank accounts. Najib has vociferously denied any wrongdoing.

In January, Malaysia’s Attorney-General cleared Najib of any corruption or criminal offences, saying that $681 million transferred into Najib’s personal bank account was not from 1MDB but was, in fact, a gift from a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family.

source: CNBC

Posted in jijik

Prime Minister resigns from offshore money scandal

imageIceland’s embattled prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has become the first major casualty of the Panama Papers, stepping aside from his office amid mounting public outrage that his family had sheltered money offshore.

What was planned as a mass protest in Reykjavik on Tuesday evening turned to muted satisfaction as demonstrators vented their anger following revelations that Gunnlaugsson once owned – and his wife still owns – an offshore investment company with multimillion-pound claims on Iceland’s failed banks.

“We were hoping parliament would be dissolved,” said Steingrimur Oli Einarsson, a fish oil trader, one of a few hundred to brave a freezing northeasterly wind on parliament square in downtown Reykjavik.

“Of course we’re happy the prime minister has stepped down. But we are not satisfied with who is taking over from him, and with the fact that the government itself is still there….It’s good news he’s resigned, yes. But we need far more drastic change. We’re left with the same gang in charge. And the guy who’s replacing the prime minister, a couple of days ago he was saying he saw nothing wrong in what he’d done.” ….

source: The Guardian

Posted in jijik

Najib sued for destruction of rule of law and sanctity of Federal Constitution

…Mahathir and two former officials of the ruling United Malays National Organisation are suing Najib in the Kuala Lumpur High Court. They are seeking damages of at least 2.6 billion ringgit ($651 million) plus interest to be paid to the government.

The plaintiffs are seeking to “reverse the destruction of the rule of law and the sanctity of the provision of our Federal Constitution, which Najib Razak has completely destroyed to almost beyond repair,” according to law firm Haniff Khatri, which is representing the trio…

source: Bloomberg

Posted in jijik, najib
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