Pakatan Harapan Rakyat Sabah

Isnin, 26 September 2016

mned Dangerous - Why Sarawak Should Not Build More Mega-dams

Damned Dangerous - Why Sarawak Should Not Build More Mega-dams

26 September 2016




What benefit the destruction?

Both the massive Bakun Dam and the recently built Murum Dam still sit half-idle.

So, people might sensibly ask, why on earth is the Taib/Adenan regime so keen to keep building more and more of these white elephants in Sarawak with the announcement of Baleh just last week?

They, of course, will argue that ‘projections’ show that there will be a vast and increased demand for this hydro-power imminently. They will also promise an influx of the world’s heavy manufacturers, eager to take advantage of cheap power and bringing tens of thousands of job opportunities along with them (mainly for imported foreign workers).

Mega-dams are hyped as the engine of a ‘great leap forward’ for the state. Before it was timber, then it was oil palm, now the people are told their luck will finally come in with dam powered industrialisation.



Why not listen to the people?

But, the real incentive is self-enrichment as all the evidence shows.

The first profits are to be had from the logging of once protected regions and river basins, with all the licences as usual going to family and cronies of the political decision-makers.

Next, the huge sums  borrowed by the state to finance these monster projects are ripe for creaming off, again by those same decision-makers and their cronies.

Added to this is the fact that Sarawak’s main construction conglomerate, CMSB, is still principally owned by Taib’s own family (despite efforts by the British CEO to disguise that fact in recent years) and it holds the state monopoly on the provision of cement.

Finally, all the transportation and cabling contracts go to Taib related companies as do the construction contracts developed to utilise the power. There are simply billions of ringgit of easy profit to be made by these politically connected outfits from a nice fat mega-project like a dam.

Meanwhile, as past experience in Sarawak shows, the people themselves experience the loss of their lands and livings, dislocation to grim re-settlement areas and paltry compensation with very little economic benefit to themselves. To add insult to injury many of these displaced people (in whose name the projects were invariably promoted) still live without access to the benefits of hydro-electricy or running water.

Simply too dangerous to be trusted 



Mistakes risk catastrophe with mega-dams

Mega-dams still pose the riskiest engineering challenges of the present day and the technology remains experimental.

And yet Sarawak has engaged Chinese companies, which are only starting to develop such projects on their own and the result has been a string of safety and construction scandals.

At both Bakun and Murum Sarawak Report has uncovered evidence of unsafe practices, cover-ups, short-cuts and repeated violation of protocols with regard to the rights of affected communities.

To remind just how dangerous, slip-shod and untrustworthy the State has been in its past handling of previous dam projects, we below are linking to earlier stories reported on this site, which have yet to be resolved.

In the light of those we ask on what grounds can anyone trust the present State Government to undertake yet another such dangerous project as the Baleh Dam announced last week?

Issue 1 – Safety

Way back in 2010 Sarawak Report obtained exclusive video and documents showing that the concrete mix for the face of the monster Bakun Dam was being routinely watered down by workers without adequate quality control managers on site. Experts warned as a result of a catastrophic potential for cracking and erosion of the main wall of this the second highest dam in the world:
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2011/04/bakun-dam-unsafe-exclusive-evidence-on-corner-cutting-and-sloppy-construction-practices/



Caught on video – concrete at Bakun was routinely watered down on site

This issue was first denied and then ignored. So no surprise when four years later Sarawak Report learnt of similar staggering negligence with respect to the construction of the key steel monster turbines constructed in China for the Murum Dam.

Not until the turbines were delivered to the construction site and two had been installed did Sarawak Electricity’s CEO, Torstein Sjotveit, decide to check the quality of these crucial pieces of machinery and they turned out to be severely and dangerously flawed.  SEB’s response was to launch a cover-up – Sarawak only learnt about the severe and dangerous problem after the details of the devastating report were leaked by insiders to the blog:
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/07/murum-turbines-not-suitable-for-installation-and-operation-massive-seb-cover-up-over-danger-of-catastrophic-breakdowns-exclusive/
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/07/misrepresenting-the-facts-we-publish-more-documents/
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/07/seb-are-taking-a-very-big-risk-mending-turbines-on-site/



Dangerous precedents – 75 workers died when this flawed turbine failed in Russia in 2009

Sjotveit then first denied the problem and then blamed Sarawak Report for ‘misinforming’ people that it could not be fixed on site. Experts have told Sarawak Report that SEB have taken an immense risk trying to fix the flaws on site and that failure to perform a perfect job could cause the vast engines to tear through the wall of the dam, with prospects of catastrophic damage.

The Murum cover-up was set in the context of the sudden deaths of two key senior Sarawak engineers at SEB:
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/07/murum-manager-was-investigated-by-macc-before-sudden-death-exclusive/
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/08/second-senior-engineer-from-murum-dam-site-dies-exclusive/

However, these are by no means the only cases of dire warnings and cover-ups unearthed by Sarawak Report regarding its history of building dams.  Later in 2014 we discovered a copy of the long demanded Environmental Impact Assessment on the Murum Dam, which Taib had begun as a secret project back in 2008, without any attempt to consult on the wider safety of the project.

That EIA issued several dire warnings at the decision to build Murum Dam up river from Bakun without taking extensive steps to further strengthen the wall of the original Bakun Dam.

Murum sits 70 km up a river gorge above Bakun, meaning that any failure of Murum (caused by a faulty turbine perhaps?) would funnel a huge body of water into Bakun Lake. This was a danger not foreseen and not prepared for in the earlier construction of Bakun’s (flawed) concrete wall – risking what the EIA described as a ‘Catastrophic Cascading Failure’ of both dams.



Projected flooding in the event of a failure of Bakun

Shockingly, the EIA calculated an ‘Extreme Risk’ factor in the event of the construction of such a dam, without the said precautions, focussing on the fact that half a million people (half Sarawak’s population of native people) live within the flood range of a Bakun rupture. Even more shockingly, the state government chose to suppress the report and do nothing, while proceeding with the construction of Murum Dam:
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/08/cascading-failure-catastrophic-warning-on-murum-dam-was-kept-hidden-major-exclusive/
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/08/murum-dam-is-high-risk-official-report/



Risk of catastrophic consequences

“The impacts of dam break [at Murum] are mentioned in Section 7.3: Such event is potentially disastrous because it is likely to result in the cascading failure of Bakun Dam downstream. The downstream impacts would be phenomenal as mentioned” [Section 7.4 Murum EIA]

Given the potential for disastrous consequences to Bakun of any failure of Murum Dam, the EIA had recommended a thorough re-evaluation of the strength of Bakun’s structures and the implementation of a civil Emergency Action Plan (see SR’suploaded copy of the report).  However, the State Government preferred to keep the matter quiet.

It is for these reasons that Sarawak Report contends that the Sarawak State Government and its agencies have demonstrated themselves not fit and trustworthy to be in charge of the construction of further dams within the state, given the self-interested motives of its politicians and their cavalier attitude to warnings and flaws within these huge and dangerous projects

Issue 2 – Human Rights

Equally shocking is the Sarawak State Government’s record with regard to the rights and compensations for native people displaced by these massive mega-structures which have already displaced thousands of people in the state.

Consultation, compensation and respect for community wishes have been ignored as projects have been driven forward in conditions of secrecy and deceit.  The scandal of Bakun is well-known, but Sarawak Report uncovered a swathe of separate scandals during the period of construction of Murum, showing that no lessons had been learnt.

It was only after the ‘Resettlement Action Plan’ was leaked to Sarawak Report, just a few weeks before the flooding of the dam that the Penan communities in the area learnt for the first time of the derisory compensation and relocation package planned by the State Government and SEB.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/09/genocide-murums-secret-resettlement-action-plan-revealed-exclusive-expose/
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2012/09/sarawaks-shame-secret-report-reveals-despicable-neglect-of-penan-people/



The Penan camped for 77 days to protest the plans

The Penan communities then camped out for a 77 day blockade to challenge the dam, before being forced out by rising waters.  So much for consultation.

The resettlement of the Penan, as subsequently covered by Sarawak Report, is yet another exercise in failure, cover-up and a callous disregard of human rights by the state authorities who continued to persist in arguing that the purpose of the dam was to ‘improve’ and ‘modernise’ the lives of these displaced communities:
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2013/11/who-to-believe-torstein-sjotveit-and-seb-propagada-or-the-penan-pengulu/
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/06/damned-disgrace/
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/07/sebs-generous-school-bus-for-murum/



Dumped! – starvation rations are supplied once a month to the isolated Murum resettlement camps

Issue 3 – Debt and Economic Consequences

For all these reasons – corruption, shoddy construction, human rights abuses – Sarawak Report believes that the State Government is not to be trusted in the construction of mega-dams.

The supposed wealth creating benefits that are so frequently advertised to mitigate such disadvantages have also been widely exposed as an economic myth and wishful thinking.

To the contrary the economic consequences of constructing mega-dams are generally disastrous for developing countries, as a body of evidence from numerous respected institutions have pointed out.
http://www.sarawakreport.org/2014/08/disastrous-environmental-and-socio-economic-consequences-evidence-mounts-against-mega-dams/

This weekend Sarawak’s own Save Rivers campaign, which led the successful rejection by the people of Baram against the previous planned mega-dam, has itself come out against the plan for Balah for these same compelling reasons.


Mega dams are obsolete and destructive. That is why thousands of dams are being dismantled in developed countries which recognise those ugly facts.

Mega dams are removed because their negative effects far outweigh the fictional benefits. That is why even in the United State of America, which is the world’s top economy, dams are continuously being removed. So, between the years 1912 to 2015, there have been 1,300 (one thousand three hundred) dams which have been removed in the USA alone….While several developed countries are removing their dams, Sarawak seems to be completely oblivious to only sane options and chose alternative energy source and stubbornly pursuing a venture which have multitudes of negative impacts



Says Director Peter Kallang in his statement summing up the situation. Instead, Chief Minister Adenan and his boss Taib Mahmud have raised billions to build these monsters and they want that money spent!



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Selasa, 20 September 2016

Thai Law Is Arbitrary?

Thai Law Is Arbitrary?

20 September 2016


The decision to deny former PetroSaudi International employee Andre Xavier Justo his request to serve the remainder of his jail term in his country, Switzerland, was made “in accordance with Thai law”.

According to Thai Justice Minister Gen Paiboon Koomchaya, under the country’s law, anyone requesting to transfer the remainder of his jail sentence must have “not less than one year” left in his jail term.

“But the remainder of the jail term of this prisoner (Justo) is nine months, which did not meet the transfer (of prisoner) treaty law. Thus, the decision to deny the request.”

“This law does not discriminate against anyone, and is effective for every prisoner who is eligible for the transfer. The Correctional Department’s decision is in accordance with the rule of law,” he told Bernama in a telephone interview today.



Source:Thai Law Is Arbitrary?, Bernama

Comment

Unfortunately, the rest of the world is coming to the conclusion that Thai law is arbitrary.

First, an ‘amnesty’ reduces a sentence and promises are made that a prisoner will be released home.

Then (following meetings with Najib who wants this witness silenced) there is a u-turn and now an announcement that the reduction in the term has  actually EXTENDED the time the hostage remains in Thailand.

Xavier Justo was convicted on the basis of a forced, false confession, taken under conditions of blackmail in his jail by a paid agent of PetroSaudi, whom the Thai legal system had apparently allowed to usurp their due process.

Justo was denied his lawyer present and told if he cooperated in making this confession, then PetroSaudi would get him out.

Under which Thai law was this permitted?



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Isnin, 19 September 2016

BN 'NGO Leader' Issues Death Threat to Sarawak Report Editor - As Pahang MB Gets The Chop!

BN 'NGO Leader' Issues Death Threat to Sarawak Report Editor - As Pahang MB Gets The Chop!

19 September 2016


It seems that Najib’s regime has entered a killer phase.

Sarawak Report has learnt that the removal of Pahang Menteri Besar, Adnan Yaakob, is scheduled for this coming Wednesday 21st September, when his replacement is due to be sworn in.



Adanan Yaakob, ex-Pahang Menteri Besar

Although just days ago the state leader had demonstrated that he was in the peak of health (wielding a pen between his toes to make his point) he has apparently lost the trust of Rosmah Mansor.

So chop!

Adnan himself is yet to have been told that the change would be so sudden, Sarawak Report can exclusively reveal.

Three other UMNO state leaders have also been marked out for a similar termination, with snap elections now planned to consolidate the position of the beleaguered Prime Minister and his wife, who are facing a powerful coalition of disaffected forces in the wake of the 1MDB exposes.

‘Interference’ brings death!

Meanwhile, Sarawak Report’s earlier revelations regarding Najib’s interference in the case of whistleblower Xavier Justo, who had been due for transfer back home to Switzerland from Thailand, has received a poisonous response from an ‘NGO’ also known to be closely tied to Rosmah Mansor (wife of the Prime Minister).



Respect Najib, Support BN – Rao’s job

Meeting with the Thai Premier last week Najib had demanded that the neighbouring country should cancel Justo’s transfer back home to Switzerland, in return for key concessions on cross border cooperation.

Justo, who says he was imprisoned under false charges brought by the 1MDB joint venture partner PetroSaudi, is a key witness against the Malaysian Prime Minister in the global investigations into 1MDB.

He was due to be returned to Switzerland under prisoner transfer protocols at the end of last month.

However, following Najib’s intervention,  the Thais have now indicated they will hold on to their controversial prisoner.

In a ‘compromise solution’ they rejected a bid by Najib to extradite the top informant back to an uncertain fate in Malaysia.

The development has triggered a diplomatic row with outraged Swiss officials, who had negotiated the transfer under existing protocols and it threatens a political showdown with Thailand’s closest European ally.

Plainly, Najib’s cyber-army are unhappy with Sarawak Report’s ‘interfering’ revelations about Najib’s interference. Tweeting Theresa May, the British Army and BBC News today, Ramesh Rao threatened:


“Better to advise Clare @ Sarawak Report to stay away from Malaysia affairs (sic), before we Malaysians Catch n Burn her alive”





The planned transfer was cancelled after Najib put the issue on the agenda of bi-lateral negotiations – but Rao says SR lied

Just a joke?

It might be tempting to dismiss this fellow as just a joke, were he not so fully funded.



Ramesh Rao press conferences have become a regular but sinister entertainment in Malaysia – Rao (left) and Lester Melanyi

Rao flew to the UK earlier this year, with a fellow ‘NGO’ member, attempting to ‘report’ Sarawak Report’s Editor to the UK police. They referred him to the Malaysian High Commission, before he flew tweeting home to KL.

The same Ramesh Rao was involved in approaching DI Bala and extracting a reversal of his Statutory Declaration way back in the 2006 Altantuya murder case, according to documentation viewed by Sarawak Report.

This established him in the inner circle of Rosmah/ Najib supporters and again last year it was Ramesh Rao who organised a press conference at which Bala’s widow Selvi was cornered into an ‘apology’ to Najib and Rosmah, for which she had been paid. Selvi later retracted that apology to an Australian TV crew and said she had been tricked.



Selvi later said she had been tricked for cash

The same Ramesh Rao had likewise paid the bankrupt, stroke victim, former Sarawak journalist Lester Melanyi to issue statements claiming Sarawak Report hired forgers.

The claims were comprehensively disproved, after it was shown that Lester had produced bogus photographs of the alleged forgers.

Despite being comprehensively debunked, these bogus allegations were nevertheless immediately used by the Communications Ministry as grounds for issuing an unprecedented online ban, blocking the Sarawak Report website in Malaysia.

Finally, it was Ramesh Rao who again presented to the media the so-called ‘confession’ videos produced by the Altantuya hitman, Najib Razak’s bodyguard, Sirul Azhar Umar from his Australian jail cell.



Sirul’s notorious ‘sarong’ video from jail

The purpose of these videos were once again to produce exonerations for Najib from the man who had earlier threatened to blackmail the Prime Minister by ‘spilling the beans’ on who had ordered the murder.

So, when the mysteriously well-funded Ramesh Rao issues death threats like those today, they are better publicised, since he is well-connected in Malaysia.

Most threatened by the exhibition of such malign and murderous intentions is Xavier Justo himself, a man many Najib-supporting Malaysians may very well wish dead – and who is presently insufficiently protected in a crowded cell in Bangkok, Thailand.





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Ahad, 18 September 2016

Confirmed - Najib Demanded That Thailand Should Not Release Justo!

Confirmed - Najib Demanded That Thailand Should Not Release Justo!

18 September 2016




Najib has dangled projects like a high speed train in Thailand – but in return demanded extradition of key 1MDB witness Xavier Justo

Switzerland’sLe Temps newspaperhas today cited Swiss official sources as confirming that Malaysia’s Najib Razak took the opportunity of his official visit to Thailand and key talks on border cooperation, in order to personally interfere in the case of Swiss national Xavier Justo.

Justo is a key witness in the 1MDB scandal, which has now directly implicated Razak in stealing billions from Malaysia’s development fund and diverting much of the money into his own personal bank accounts in KL.

The US Department of Justice has traced much of the rest of the stolen cash to key co-conspirators, in particular Najib’s proxy in 1MDB, Jho Low, and also his stepson Riza Aziz, who bought multi-million dollar properties and funded the film Wolf of Wall Street with the money.

Jho Low, who was named in the DOJ indictment and has remained a fugitive from Malaysia for at least a year, also attended the talks in Thailand, according to Le Temps.

Political Prisoner



Malaysian fugitive Jho Low joined Rosmah and Najib in Thailand – he is believed to have established a base in Bangkok

The news confirms that Najib is seeking to make this witness against him into a political prisoner in a third country.  It is also plain he is prepared to use the Malaysian national interest in cross border negotiations as a bargaining chip to get his way.

Thailand is desperate to build a wall between the two territories to counter terrorists and is also interested in a high-speed rail link to Singapore.  It has now been learnt that Najib had sought as part of any deal to force the Thais to extradite Justo on spurious legal grounds to Malaysia!

The gambit was made by the Malaysian Prime Minister at a top level meeting with the Thai Premier, but was apparently rejected, not least on the grounds that the Swiss and also American authorities have been pressing for Justo to be allowed to serve the remainder of his controversial sentence back home in Switzerland.

Under the well established terms of bi-lateral agreements on prisoner transfers between the two countries, Justo should by now already have been released by the Thais in any case. Private assurances have been given to the Swiss that the transfer would take place before the middle of the month.

However, the thwarted Najib is understood to have demanded that if he could not lay hands on Justo then the Thais must at least prevent the Swiss recovering their national either!  Yesterday, he appeared to have achieved his end as the Thai authorities signalled to the Swiss that under amended rules they considered him no longer eligible for release (his remaining sentence now being less than a year).

Diplomatic showdown!



Didier Burkhalter, the Swiss Foreign Minister said to be mulling an unprecedented visit to Bangkok to demand the return of their political prisoner!

The U-turn is believed to have caused consternation and fury in Berne, where the Swiss Government plainly now regard their national as being held as a political prisoner for criminal reasons.

The case against Justo has now been exposed as highly flawed, in that he was forced into a confession by his accusers from the company PetroSaudi, who are highly implicated in the 1MDB case and who were allowed undue interference in the case.

Both the Swiss and the Thai authorities, who were previously led to believe that Justo had attempted to extort money and was involved in forging data, now realise that his disclosures were correct and have provided vital evidence exposing major thefts from the Malaysian public purse.

According to Le Temps, if Justo remains a victim of Malaysia’s cover-up, his Swiss lawyers have made clear that there will be open protests at the highest level. The Swiss Foreign Minister has himself indicated that he is willing to fly personally to Bangkok on an unprecedented mission to demand the return of their national, say sources of Le Temps.

Such a move would undoubtedly provoke world headlines and be bad news for Thailand’s reputation as a safe tourism destination. It would also damage the long-standing relationship with the Thai King’s favourite European country.

But, it is clear that on this issue the Swiss, together with the Americans, are serious.

Planned extradition to Malayia?

What Najib had planned to gain by extradition can only be surmised.

Judging by Malaysia’s past treatment of prisoners with evidence against Najib, showcase apologies are likely to have been extracted in the run-up to the next election. Doubtless also, Justo would be tried under the panoply of new ‘anti-terror’ laws and the legislation against ‘activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy’ (eg embarrassing the Prime Minister) which can allow imprisonment for 20 years.

The Swiss are plainly deeply anxious that Najib will continue to attempt to extract this witness against him from neighbouring Thailand, in a case that looks set to pitch western democracies and legal systems up against Najib’s now arbitrary government in Malaysia.

Read a translation of theLe Tempsarticle below:



Thailand refuses to hand over to Switzerland the number one witness in the 1MDB scandal:

During an official visit to Bangkok the Malaysian Head of State Najib Razak cut short the transfer procedure of Xavier Justo, the Genevois responsible for triggering the theft of the century case in  Southeast Asia. It has forced all hands to a diplomatic battle within the Swiss authorities

Xavier Justo, the star witness in a case of misappropriation of Malaysian public money, was on the verge of getting his transfer from the Asian prison to Switzerland. Thai authorities have finally decided to keep him in his cell in Bangkok. Reason given: the Genevan has no more than a year to serve.

“My reading of this decision is that it derives more from political rather than legal considerations. I thank the Swiss authorities still have avoided the worst, “says Christian Lüscher, Xavier Justo’s lawyer. The worst? According to our information, it appears that Thailand yielded to Swiss pressure not to deliver the Genevan prisoner to Malaysia, where his life was endangered. But not to lose face with its main regional partner, Bangkok would in return reject his request for transfer to Switzerland.

Special Task Force:

The green light for the transfer of Xavier Justo, by virtue of a bilateral agreement existing between Switzerland and Thailand, was due on 31 August. The deadline was extended by two weeks. Finally the verdict did not arrive until Friday. Was that owing to it being the day after the departure of Prime Minister Najib Razak after the official visit to Bangkok or coincidence? Our sources indicate that the strong man of Kuala Lumpur was accompanied by Jho Low, a central character in this vast matter of alleged corruption and whose identity appears in particular in the investigation of the US court documents.

According to our information, Berne is ready to send out the big guns, diplomatically speaking, to attempt to gain reason from Thailand. It would notably include sending Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter personally over to Bangkok.

Sentence reduced by half:

Xavier Justo had drawn from the server of the company PetroSaudi compromising data related to the financial scandal of the Malaysian fund 1MDB, which he delivered to the press. He was sentenced to three years in civilian prison for having, according to Thai justice, tried to blackmail his former employer. The former Director of the multinational company in Geneva had received, after his transfer request, a halving of his sentence for good behavior (royal pardon).

For her part, Laura Justo, who gave up everything to Thailand to seek refuge in Switzerland, claims innocence on behalf of her husband. She accuses PetroSaudi of extorting false confessions from her husband and to have threatened retaliation against her if she spoke out about it.





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Jumaat, 16 September 2016

Unrepentant Mike Smith!

Unrepentant Mike Smith!

15 September 2016


Despite criticism of Smith’s super-regional Asia strategy while running ANZ, the former senior HSBC executive is still one of Australia’s best-connected businessmen in the region …

Fresh from a three-month break in Europe and his 60th birthday celebrations over the weekend, Smith is turning his attention back to Asia in his latest “ambassadorial” role advising PricewaterhouseCoopers. It is not dissimilar to the advisory role he currently has with ANZ.

Smith’s successor, Shayne Elliott, is reining in ANZ’s investment in Asia although the bank says it is not back tracking. While his critics will point to Smith’s Asia strategy as a reason why he should not be advising companies on doing business in Asia, Smith shrugs off that kind of commentary as “uninformed” and that it was always an investment that played to the medium to long term. “We are oppressed by this social sound bite these days where next Thursday is long term. If you think like that you are going to come a cropper….

Smith believes Australian companies are in danger of missing the boat in Asia because they are more comfortable in the English-speaking market and see the region as too risky.

“It is not a question of should I get closer to Asia. The question the boards should be asking themselves is can they afford not to?”

 



Source: Unrepentant Mike Smith!, Financial Review

Comment

Today it has emerged that Arianne de Rothschild, President of Edmond de Rothschild BPERE and a swathe of top brass at the bank handed in their notice on July 20th. That was the day of the US Department of Justice filing which implicated their bank in the laundering of money stolen from 1MDB.

The same indictment squarely implicated ANZ (of which Mike Smith was CEO at the relevant time) for managing a series of eye-popping transactions into Najib Razak’s billion dollar AmBank account.

ANZ is the major shareholder of AmBank and as part of Mike Smith’s ‘Asia expansion’ all the most senior officers in KL were staff on secondment from ANZ.

The former owner of AmBank, Hussein Najadi, had raised loud concerns about what was going on at the bank, but Mike and his team failed to take notice. They didn’t even bother to check further when Najidi was shot dead and his son began a crusade to highlight the suspicious circumstances linked to the bank.

Eventually, after Sarawak Report leaked the information on Najib’s shocking accounts and after several regulatory investigations were launched, Smith and his team sacked a couple of junior operatives who had managed Najib’s accounts. Later, in September of last year he too decided to take an early retirement.

But, now he is back preaching! He is plainly confident that Australian regulators will continue to look the other way over this disgraceful episode.  But, those seeking his advice should remember it’s not about whether you should do business with Asia, but HOW you do that business which matters.



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Not So 'Untouchable'!

Not So 'Untouchable'!

15 September 2016




BPERE top client now jailed, Khadem Al Qubaisi

The 1MDB scandal has now claimed perhaps its most prominent banking casualty so far.

It emerged in Luxembourg today that the President of Banque Privee Edmond de Rothschild (BPERE), Ariane de Rothschild, quietly relinquished her post on July 20th.

This was the same Ariane de Rothschild, a member of Europe’s most powerful and famous banking family, who had beendeclared ‘untouchable‘ by her entourage after being questioned on French TV about evidence produced by Sarawak Report showing her bank had handled half a billion dollars linked to Jho Low.

The money had passed through the Vasco Trust accounts of their top client, the then Aabar boss, Khadem Al Qubaisi.

Sarawak Report has been questioning the bank’s links to 1MDB since March of last year and in August the Chief Executive of the Bank, Marc Ambroisien, duly announced he would be stepping down from his job.

Sarawak Report had published documents showing that Al Quabaisi had purchased an Aston Martin for Ambroisien “as a gift”



Ambroisien today claimed this document is a fake

We had also transcripts of recordings of a conversation with Ambroisien in which he advised the fund manager not to attempt to put his money through any other bank, because it would be rejected or frozen.


“If the money from Coastal had arrived [at HSBC] it would be frozen….. 3/4 of the activities, which have been received, if I did not have the position I have they would not have been received or they would have been immediately frozen” [translated from French]



However, today in an exclusive interview with Lux Wortnewspaper Ambroisien had declared that the document on the car was ‘fake’, saying that he had bought the vehicle with his own money. He also said that the recording, whilst genuine, had been quoted out of context.

Blame Game at BPERE?

In his interview Ambroisien also told the Luxembourg paper that he is now fighting his case and denies all charges of suspicion against him.

He apparently had no reason whatsoever to consider Al Qubaisi’s vast transfers into his private trust accounts as at all suspicious. Ambroisien, who was accompanied by a lawyer, also said that all the Al Qubaisi transactions had been supervised at many levels throughout the bank, including its Headquarters in Switzerland and in France.

Several regulatory professionals had scrutinised the accounts of this politically exposed person, claimed Ambroisien, and not one had seen any cause for concern that a salaried fund manager should be banking hundreds of millions over a single year from a BVI account called Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partnership, which in fact had nothing to do with the globally known Blackstone Group.

If so, then Ambroisien has in taking up battle with the bank drawn in a far wider group of people who appear to have actively failed in their anti-money laundering duties.

This may explain the low-key departure of his President Ariane de Rothschild along with a swathe of no less than seven other top officials at the bank, which was registered on July 20th, but so far has not been publicly announced.

It can be no coincidence that the date of this mass resignation was the same day that the Department of Justice filed its notice on 1MDB, which included the seizure of assets belonging to Khadem Al Qubaisi in the United States, which had beenpurchased by money from the Rothschild Vasco Trust account.

The DOJ filing had explained in detail the exact money trail from 1MDB to Blackstone Asia (which was controlled by Jho Low) and then on to Khadem Al Qubaisi.

A cover-up that failed?

At the time of his own departure, Ambroisien has pointed out, there were no public acknowledgements of any concerns of his own conduct by the bank, despite the revelations by Sarawak Report regarding his relationship with Khadem Al Qubaisi.

Far from this being the case, the bank had announced last August that Ambroisien had departed of his own free will in order to pursue his personal career interests and that he would remain on the Board of the bank and retain close ties. He would even be allowed to continue as an agent of the bank, using its banking licence for the purpose, according to a letter signed by Ariane de Rothschild herself, in which she had announced her CEO’s departure and praised him for ‘exceptional service’ to the bank.



“he will continue to work closely with us” – signed Ariane de Rothschild August 2015

Whilst pursuing this continuing ‘close relationship’ Ambroisien acknowledges that he continued to act as the manager of several private companies on behalf of certain special clients of the bank, including Khadem Al Qubaisi, a matter that has also been reported on by Sarawak Report.

It appears that this cosmetic removal of Ambroisien had been considered sufficient by the bank for several months, despite Sarawak Report’s revelations and the growing number of investigations by international authorities.

Indeed, one piece of damning information obtained by Luxemburg Wort is that it was not until after the Cash Investigation report on French TV earlier this year that the Rothschild bank even filed a ‘suspicious transaction’ report to the regulatory authorities about the KAQ accounts.

Sarawak Report had been highlighting those very suspicions for over a year!

It appears to have taken a massive raid on the bank, which occurred in late June, followed by the revelations of the DOJ report to convince the ‘untouchables’ that they were indeed touched.

The full implications for the bank and Ambroisien remain uncertain as the parties fight each other and scramble to clear their names.

Nevertheless, back in Malaysia after his ‘Thai holiday’, Official Number One will doubtless be hoping things will be different and that those who are regarded as ‘untouchable’ remain so.



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Tarek's Fab Pad In Mayfair - Price Tag £8.25m - Courtesy Of 1MDB! - EXCLUSIVE

Tarek's Fab Pad In Mayfair - Price Tag £8.25m - Courtesy Of 1MDB! - EXCLUSIVE

16 September 2016




Formal passport pose, dropped for the highlife in Europe

Sarawak Report has located at least one of the swanky London properties acquired by PetroSaudi CEO and Co-founder Tarek Obaid, shortly after the company received $300 million defrauded from 1MDB.

Obaid himself received a personal kickback from fugitive financier Jho Low’s Good Star Limited of $85 million of “brokerage fees” on the deal.

The 5 bedroomed apartment in Park Street, Mayfair, purchased in August 2010, was described by estate agents as “an immaculately present duplex on the 3rd and 4th floors of this prestigious building”, which had been recently refurbished in luxury modern style.

It covers a total of 3,452 square feet and has a lift and full time concierge to attend to the residents needs.



Grandiose two floor apartment in posh Mayfair

Next on the target list?

International investigators have already sequestered a billion dollars worth of property believed to have been financed from money criminally diverted from 1MDB.



Marble bathrooms, of course

However the United States Department of Justice has indicated they believe there is at least $3.5 billion to be accounted for and the Malaysian Auditor General says the total missing in fact reaches $7 billion.

It seems highly likely that properties acquired by Obaid and his colleagues which closely relate to the injection of huge sums into their previously cash poor companies will present a future target.

Evidence shows that before the 1MDB venture Obaid was a young businessmen with very little cash and no substantial property. PetroSaudi itself was originally financed by a 100,000 Swiss franc loan from friends and the company had borrowed office space and a phone line from another company Fininfor, which was owned by his then friend Xavier Justo (now in jail in Thailand, accused of stealing PetroSaudi’s data).

Recent documents acquired by Sarawak Report indicate that Obaid is currently being directly scrutinised by Swiss Prosecutors on the basis that the money acquired by him related to 1MDB is of suspicious origin. People who have received money from Obaid have been approached to give evidence on those transactions.



Signed by Swiss prosecutors – money received by PetroSaudi from 1MDB in 2009 is considered of suspicious origin and a payment from Tarek’s account is regarded particularly suspicious…

One London property owned by Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz, 2 Lygon Place, earlierfeaturedby Sarawak Report, has already been slapped with a DOJ seizure notice in the July 20th court filing.



Patrick Mahony paid £6 million for his own 1MDB show house in Notting Hill

Sarawak Report has also identified another multi-million pound house inLadbroke Square,which was similarly purchased by a fellow PetroSaudi director, Patrick Mahony, in November 2009, just weeks after the joint venture deal and bought from money passed into his accounts from the $85 million fee sent by Jho Low.

Mahony too has been questioned by Swiss and US investigators several times, according to information obtained by Sarawak Report.

Obaid is also known to have acquired several tens of millions of dollars of property in Geneva and elsewhere in Switzerland, again in the period immediately after the joint venture with 1MDB, now recognised as a scam to steal billions of public development money, orchestrated by the Malaysian Prime Minister and Jho Low.

Secret off-shore companies used to purchase properties

Documents reveal that the Swiss/Saudi national constructed a complex web of off-shore companies to conceal his ownership of the property, aided by a series of legal and financial advisors in both Switzerland and the UK.

Emails show that Obaid had started hunting for a Mayfair property, London’s most expensive area, in early 2010, just a few months after the 1MDB heist. He eventually settled on Flat 3, 44-46 Park Street in June and had the deal completed by August.

Assisting in the house hunt and purchase were the same legal firm who managed the PetroSaudi joint venture White & Case – in particular lawyer Tim Buckland, who later resigned to join PetroSaudi as a Director in their new London offices in Curzon Street, also in Mayfair.

Buckland introduced Obaid to the private bank EFG London in Curzon Street Mayfair, whose premises were adjacent to PetroSaudi’s fancy new offices rented shortly after the joint venture brought money pouring in.

EFG staff then assisted in a major house hunting exercise in the area for Tarek, who said he was in a hurry to buy, assisted by a property arm of the bank. Meanwhile, White & Case together with off-shore legal advisors Maples worked on setting up two BVI companies for Tarek Obaid named ‘Rightview Limited’ and ‘Leftview Limited’, with the purpose of acting as the ‘nominee’ owners of the properties.

Tarek’s Swiss lawyer Carl Hegli and a colleague from PetroSaudi then posed as the Directors and minority shareholders of both Rightview and Leftview. However, both men separately signed private documents to acknowledge that they were in fact merely nominees in favour of the beneficial owner of the company, which was Tarek Obaid.

Likewise Hegli renounced any control over the company in favour of Obaid, but agreed to take on all the management of the companies in yet another signed agreement organised by the British lawyers who constructed the deal, White & Case and Maples.

A similar tactic had been employed by Patrick Mahony in the purchase his own property – the two mirror BVI companies he employed to disguise his ownership were named Mica 1 and Mica 2 in a method that is clearly becoming standard practice for those seeking to disguise their wealth. As Mahony had confided to one estate agent:


“the property I own on Ladbroke Square belongs to a company, which in turn belongs to a trust. I am the beneficiary of that trust but I am not the direct owner of the property for reasons I’m sure you’ll be familiar with”



Money was transferred from account funded by 1MDB

Having set up the EFG London account, which took some time to arrange, Obaid then opened further accounts with the bank’s off-shore division in Guernsey, in order apparently to “facilitate his off-shore finances”.

On 1st June 2010 a sum of $10 million was transferred from Obaid’s JP Morgan Suisse account A/C 7573800 into the EFG account in London.  These funds were later increased to over £19 million pounds before the sale was completed in August.

This account at JP Morgan Suisse was the account into which Jho Low’s Good Star Limited had secretly paid the $85 million dollar “brokerage fee” in October 2009 and then a further $68 million in January 2010, amongst other 1MDB related payments linked to the secret and undeclared use of 1MDB money to buy out the Sarawak UBG group (part owned by Jho Low) using PetroSaudi as a front.

In October of that year $15 was transferred back out of the EFG account to Obaid’s UBS Geneva account.

Investigators are therefore likely to be determining from JP Morgan and Obaid’s portfolio managers, such as  Swiss lawyer Carl Hegli, whether the source of the cash for the purchase of Tarek’s Mayfair pad can have any other explanation apart from 1MDB.

What is certain is that the deals are there to be traced through the dollar clearing system as  was the case with other assets which have been sequestered in the United States and London.





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Khamis, 15 September 2016

Nazri Should Learn Some Respect

Nazri Should Learn Some Respect

13 September 2016


Umno supreme council member Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said he is closer to DAP than MCA because it is the former that can garner Chinese support.

He said this in response to MCA central committee member Ti Lian Ker, who complained that Nazri appears closer to DAP despite winning in the general election under BN, which was helped by all component parties including MCA.

“I am good with (DAP secretary-general) Lim Guan Eng because I respect democracy as the Chinese community chose Lim Guan Eng and DAP.

“So I have to respect democracy and respect them (DAP). Why would I want to respect Ti when the people reject him.

“I am confident even if he were to contest in the general election, the rakyat will also reject him because the Chinese people truly hate people like him,” Nazri told Malaysiakini.



Source:Nazri Should Learn Some Respect, Malaysiakini

Comment

It is fascinating to watch BN’s remaining leading lights condemn themselves by their own tongues and none are better at it than this Nazri.

He has made it clear that he has no ‘respect’ for anybody not above him in life, as he sees it. That includes voters, working people and those who choose to disagree with him in politics.

Instead, he clearly respects the master-theif Najib, whom he and fellow UMNO Supreme Council members ought by duty now to have long since removed from office.

Everyone who seeks to represent their people should be accorded reasonable respect, if they act with honesty and good faith.  Likewise taxi drivers and anyone else earning a decent and honourable living for their families.

It is arrogance, greed, lies and theft that by right loses a man respect and this Nazri fellow has all of the above in spades, by his own admission.

No one cares whom he respects, because nobody has respect for him.


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Ahad, 11 September 2016

Trust Me, We Can Win!

Trust Me, We Can Win!

11 September 2016


Najib has been telling his inner UMNO circle that a snap March election is the way to solve the party’s woes, brought on by him.

The message going out is ‘trust me, we can win’, Sarawak Report has learnt.

Furthermore, ‘If we do fall short, we can get them over’ has been Najib’s message. Meaning that if the daunting forces now ranged against him do win more seats, despite his tactics, then he still has enough money to simply buy over opposition MPs.

His frozen accounts aren’t his only accounts, he leads his key followers to understand. There is more money on the table to win again.



Frog candidates ready to pack up and change sides? Najib reckons he still has enough cash to buy the next election whatever it takes

Jumpers are the fallback?

So called ‘frogs’ are a well-known Malaysian political phenomenon.

These candidates, like the creature, change their look and shape, metamorphosing from one party animal into another, when sufficiently paid after the election.

They then leap over to the other side, betraying their electors.

‘Frogs’ have enabled BN to hold power in Sabah after losing in the past and have been used elsewhere. Resources to pay frogs, if need be, was the main purpose of Najib’s 1MDB inflated war chest in 2013.  He still has access to this level of resources insiders are led to understand.

Don’t worry I will soon leave after the election

Once the election is out of the way, the Prime Minister is further telling his increasingly jaded circle of UMNO loyalists, he will soon go.

They ought not believe it, because Najib has nowhere else left to go where he feels safe. Instead, it is evident the Prime Minister needs to drive through a win to guarantee himself another full term of office and to claim legitimacy, despite all he has done.

For him personally there is little other option.  If he retires he needs to trust his successor to both provide him immunity and stay in power.  Would Zahid be trusted to honour an immunity and could cousin Hishamuddin cling on to power?

Better to throw a lifetime of election-rigging expertise (and half Malaysia’s remaining resources) to get BN back in office and stay put, the reckoning surely goes.  After an ‘election endorsement from the people” and another five years of ‘iron rule’ Najib hopes to frame himself as a new father of the people, his sins forgotten.

Any in UMNO who fail to tow the line can then expect more Mafia-like elimination.  The latest senior figure to fall foul of the growing Rosmah-run dictatorship being the soon-to-be-ex Menteri Besar of Pahang, Adnan Yaakob.

To the ‘first lady’ this is all just the normal cut and thrust of politics.  After all she is the woman who used her own ample form to create a photo-opportunity this week, stopping an embarrassed US President in his tracks as he passed their dinner table, thereby allowing her husband to scramble to his feet, still clutching his napkin in his hand to ‘have a pleasant chat’.

What’s left of UMNO can believe she will walk away from power if they want to.




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Khamis, 8 September 2016

Top UK Politician Held Interests In A Group Funded By Jho Low - EXCLUSIVE

Top UK Politician Held Interests In A Group Funded By Jho Low - EXCLUSIVE

8 SEP 2016



Billionaire player in the Middle East – Thomas Kaplan of Electrum Group

Sarawak Report has learnt that a senior UK politician who holds strong connections with the Middle East was linked to a company that received a $150,000,000 injection of money from Jho Low.

In late 2012, Jho Low’s Jynwel Capital invested $150 millioninto the newly formed Electrum Group run by Anglo-American billionaire Thomas Kaplan – money now suspected as having emanated from the looting of 1MDB.

The investment formed 7% of the fund’s total worth of over $1 billion, which is mainly owned by Kaplan’s private family trust, according to filings in the United States and it earned Jho Low a place on the board of Electrum.

Two other major institutions also invested in Electrum at the same time: Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Sovereign Wealth Fund and the Kuwait Investment Fund together added a further $300 million of investment, the company has said.

However, Sarawak Report has learnt from inside sources that a senior British political figure also held an interest in the company and therefore stood to benefit from these injections of hundreds of millions of dollars from Malaysia and the Middle East.

Top connections – How Jho Low used his partners as referees

Jho Low was soon utilising his connections with Kaplan and also Mubadala to promote Jynwel’s credentials as a global investor and his own image as a man of vision and integrity. A corporate video commissioned by Jynwel in 2014 features Kaplan, extensively praising his new business partner:


“What do we look for in a partner? Someone first and foremost whose word is their bond, that when they say they’re going to do something, you can bank it.” [Jynwel promotional video]



Jho Low also joined the Board of Kaplan’s wild cat charityPanthera, contributing $20 million to the fund andpromoting his ‘philanthropy’ in the process.

Abu Dhabi connection

The same promotional video also features Mubadala’s Deputy Group CEO, Waleed al Muhairi again praising Jho Low. By late 2012 Jho Low had already stolen hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB, according to the DOJ, in connivance with a fellow Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund manager, Aabar’s Khadem al Qubaisi:

“In Jynwel we have found a partner that not only shares the same passion for investing that we do, but also is a match for our values… we have worked hand in hand with Jynwel across multiple projects, multiple investments, across multiple geographies” explains Waleed Al Muhairi 



These joint investments have included, according to the Department of Justice seizure filing of 20th July, the purchase of EMI Publishing and also New York’s Park Lane Hotel Group, which Jho Low funded through money stolen from 1MDB.

The DOJ has already identified a record $1 billion in assets, now under seizure in the United States, as products of money laundering from 1MDB. However, it has stated that at least $3.5 billion was stolen in total from the Malaysian fund, leaving major question-marks over Jho Low’s other investments.

There is therefore considerable speculation over whether the money which flowed into Kaplan’s funds will also eventually be traced to 1MDB.

Spokesmen for Electrum (from which Low recently resigned his post) informed the Wall Street Journal that they are working with the US authorities and have ‘safeguarded and sequestered‘ any potentially tainted funds.

Potential for embarrassment



Jonathan Powell’s memoir of his years working for Tony Blair

Whether or not this turns out to be the case, Sarawak Report has been informed that the matter could cause  embarrassment for a senior UK political figure, whose involvement in the Kaplan fund was not previously known.

This is particularly so, given the added investments made by the sovereign funds from the Middle East.

Kaplan, who studied at Oxford University, but is based in the United States, already has extensive links with well-known politically connected figures in the British establishment.

His former fellow undergraduate friend, Jonathan Powell, took up a position as a ‘Senior Advisor’ to Kaplan’s multi-billion dollar Tigris Financial Group in 2011. Powell has also acted as a member of Kaplan’s wild cat charity, Panthera’s Conservation Council.

At the front of his most recent book, ‘The New Machiavelle – How to Wield Power in the Modern World’, regarded as an anecdotal memoir of his 13 years serving under former UK premier Tony Blair, Jonathan Powell acknowledges the support and assistance of his ‘colleagues’ Thomas Kaplan, Ali Erfan and Aamer Sarfraz, who are all associated with Tigris Financial Group, in the writing of the book.



Jonathan Powell – Kaplan already has close business associations with the British establishment

It is well known that after Tony Blair left office Powell continued to play a senior role within his former boss’s private commercial operations, acting as a consultant to his private company Tony Blair Associates and working also with various linked PR and lobbying groups.

Blair was simultaneously Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia from 2007 until last year.

Considered a player, Powell was himself appointed as David Cameron’s personal Libyan Special Envoy in 2014, on the basis of his earlier diplomatic career and peace negotiations in Northern Ireland. His brother has long been close to the Conservative Party.

Billionaire businessman who stuck his nose into the Middle East

These links have now raised controversy, given Kaplan’s own interests and connections in the Middle East.

After years of non-disclosure, the billionaire has been revealed as the main funder of the campaigning organisation known as UANI (United Against Nuclear Iran), which has been the most vocal opponent of Obama’s recent peace initiatives with Iran, bitterly opposed by the Gulf States and also Israel, where Kaplan has strong ties.

For example, it has been pointed out that the Chief Executive of UANI, a former American Ambassador Mark Wallace, receives no current income from the non-profit group, yet has simultaneously acted as the CEO of Tigris Financial Group and also Chief Operating Officer of Electrum Group, both owned by Kaplan.

Investigative journalists have further identified at least three other staff connections between Kaplan companies and the UANI campaign group, which he has funded to the tune of $843,,000.

In this context, according to court filings against Kaplan (issued for defamation by a Greek businessman, Victor Restis) Jonathan Powell has alsofeatured as a board member for UANI in recent years:

“Jonathan Powell, an Advisory Board member of UANI and The Institute for Strategic Dialogue was a college classmate of Kaplan’s and serves as a Senior Advisor to Tigris Financial Group.” [How much money can these two Iran hawks make out of the Middle East?]





Powell’s Powerbase resume includes Senior Advisor to Tigris and Advisory Board Member of UANI

Powell appears to have nowresigned from this position:



Politics or the business of instability?

Kaplan has himself claimed that his activities in the Middle East through UANI have made his organisation one of the most effective actors on the political stage and a combat force against Iran:

” “Hard to know what the outcome will be but I do know that as much as United Against Nuclear Iran may not have had Tomahawk missiles and aircraft carriers at its disposal, we’ve done more to bring Iran to heel than any other private sector initiative and most public ones.” [Videoof Kaplan speaking on UANI]



However, critics have suggested that his driving motivation is financial.  His billion dollar business, mining precious metals, openly trades on the profitability of instability and conflict in places like the Middle East, they say.

One investigator, who exposed Kaplan as the primary funder of UANI, says there is ample evidence that Kaplan seeks investors in his gold and silver mining ventures by directly pointing to conflicts that threaten economic stability:

The 2002 annual report for Kaplan’s Apex Silver Mines, Ltd., which has since gone bankrupt, contained an insight into his thinking. The report, issued by Kaplan and Apex’s CEO, Keith R. Hulley, asks investors to “consider the following factors: destabilization in the Middle East and Persian Gulf, tensions between India and Pakistan, the potential for nuclear confrontation with North Korea and Iran, […] religious extremism and terrorism on a global scale and corporate hooliganism.”

The solution, explained Kaplan, is that the “trend to invest in companies with real assets and exposure to the non-correlated commodities sector is likely to prove to be long-term and secular rather than cyclical.”

In other words, if you believe political instability is likely, invest in assets like those mined by Apex.

And Wallace, as CEO of Tigris, oversaw similar language in a 2011 prospectus — after his stint with UANI commenced — for the Sunshine Silver Mine Corp., an Idaho mine owned by the group, which he played an active role in acquiring. “Investment demand for silver exposure remains strong,” said the prospectus, which was filed with the SEC, “driven in part by continued U.S. dollar weakness, ongoing economic uncertainty in Europe and political unrest in the Middle East.” [Eli Clifton, Document Reveals Billionaire Backers Behind United Against Nuclear Iran]



The message must surely be that politically connected people with links to the Middle East should shun business with Thomas Kaplan, if they want to avoid embarrassment, because his business benefits from further conflict.



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Sabtu, 3 September 2016

Was It Some Bankers, Their Banks Or The Regulators Who Let Malaysia Down?


Was It Some Bankers, Their Banks Or The Regulators Who Let Malaysia Down?

2 SEP 2016



Planned retirement? Falcon’s ex CEO Eduardo Leemann

The metaphorical longhouse of 1MDB is gathering an impressive set of bankers’ skulls to hang up in the porch!

The latest head to roll is that of the former Goldman Sachs Swiss banker, Eduardo Leemann, who departed yesterday as CEO of Falcon Bank.

He follows high-profile figures such as BSI’s Singapore boss, Hanspeter Brunner; Goldman’s South East Asia boss, Tim Leissner; Edmond de Rothchild’s Luxembourg’s boss, Marc Ambroisien; ANZ Bank’s CEO, Mike Smith along with a number of their collective underlings.

Naturally, as with all the rest, Mr Leemann and his bank have stated that the unexpected departure had nothing whatsoever to do with 1MDB. Indeed, Falcon yesterday announced that Leemann’s exit was long-planned since the very beginning of 2015:


“Eduardo Leemann informed the board (at the) beginning of 2015 that he wanted to retire from the operational management at the age of 60,” Chairman Murtadha M. al Hashmi said in a statement. [Reuters]



In which case, it seems a lamentable reflection on the bank’s basic organisational skills that today, almost two years after it received that notice, Leemann remains advertised on their website as the Chief Executive.

Even more indicative of a less than organised rearrangement of the bank’s affairs is the fact that still featured next to him, as the second most important public face of this private bank, is another chap who had already earlier departed in July. Chief Operating Officer Tobias Unger had been previously touted as Leemann’s Deputy and obvious successor, but took off to another job as storm clouds swirled over the Aabar-owned bank.

The man who has taken over at Falcon was only brought onto the Board last year and remains, according to the present website, as a Board Member and not top management.

Nothing to hide

The reality of course is that this confusion in the shop window is a mere reflection of what must be chaos behind the scenes at Falcon following the DOJ’s detailed disclosures of its deep involvement in the laundering of billions of dollars of 1MDB’s stolen cash.

The bank was taken over by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar/IPIC fund in 2009 under the initial Chairmanship of Aabar’s CEO Khadem Al Qubaisi, now arrested and under investigation in Abu Dhabi for massive fraud relating to 1MDB.

Khadem’s successor on the Board at the time of the 1MDB thefts was his close side-kick Mohamed al Husseiny, also named in the DOJ indictment and also under investigation by the US, Abu Dhabi and Switzerland for his role in the misappropriation of the funds.



Handily in position as Chairman of the Board at Falcon as the 1MDB money flowed through after April 2012 was Mohammed Al Husseny – Leemann was his CEO

Al Husseiny helmed the Board of the bank right through the ‘Aabar/BVI’ phase of the 1MDB scan in 2012 and also through the ‘Tanore phase’ in March 2013, when huge sums were funnelled via the Falcon Bank Singapore account of Tanore Finance Corporation into Najib’s private KL account.

Straight after Najib recieved that money in March 2013 (just in advance of the general election) Al Husseiny resigned from the Board (in May 2013). The DOJ detailed millions of dollars in kickbacks he had received:

“Between approximately May 29, 2012, and December 3, 2012, Blackstone [funded by 1MDB] sent four separate wire transfers, totaling $55,000,000, to an account at BHF Bank in Frankfurt, Germany, held in the name of Rayan Inc. (“Rayan”)….HUSSEINY is the beneficial owner of the Rayan Account….

December 18, 2012 – .. Blackstone sent $10,100,000 to an account at Bank of America in Texas held in the name of MB Consulting LLC (“MB Consulting Account”). The payment details on the wire read: “PAYMENT FOR SERVICES.”  HUSSEINY is the beneficial owner of the MB Consulting Account and the only authorized signatory on the account. The MB Consulting Account received another wire transfer of $1,500,000 from the Blackstone Account on or about January 22, 2013. [DOJ filing sections 189-192]



Then when crisis hit at Falcon, owing the the exposure over 1MDB and Aabar stepped in to take over 1MDB’s debts, Husseiny returned to the Board in April 2015, remaining until he was sacked from all Aabar/IPIC related posts in August.



Falcon Bank announcement

Heading the management team through the entire period was Leemann.

Back in September of last year, long before Falcon was officially revealed as a key player in the laundering of Malaysia’s development money, Sarawak Report identified the Swiss branch of Falcon as the outfit which had facilitated the setting up of the off-shore company Tanore Finance Corporation, which had sent $681 million to Najib’s personal account.

Yet, as recently as March of this year Falcon’s then boss Leemann was still adamant the bank had “nothing to hide” over 1MDB:

Falcon Private Bank AG, owned by Abu Dhabi’s Aabar Investments PJSC, said it has nothing to hide from regulators probing possible financial irregularities at a Malaysian state investment fund and is cooperating fully with investigators.

“We are totally transparent, fully cooperative and there’s nothing to hide,” Falcon Chief Executive Officer Eduardo Leemann said Wednesday in an interview in Dubai, saying the bank’s business hasn’t been affected by the investigation. “We’re open as a book. That’s all I can say.” [Bloomberg]



Leemann was further quoted by the Wall Street Journal claiming the Aabar bosses on the Board had no influence whatsoever on his operational decisions at the bank:

On Wednesday, Falcon Private Bank’s chief executive, Eduardo Leemann, said the Zurich-based wealth-management firm operates independently from its Abu Dhabi owner and that the emirate plays only a minor role in helping it gain new business or clients.

“The owners, IPIC as well as Aabar, never until today, never have never had and never will get involved in any operational issues,” Mr. Leemann said. “It opened doors but no more than that,” he said. He made the comments at the inauguration of the bank’s new office in Dubai’s financial center.

Mr. Leemann said the bank suffered no impact from the association with the Malaysian scandal and that it has internal compliance mechanisms in place that have been audited internally, externally and by regulators.

“There’s a process about documenting each and every transaction we execute,” Mr. Leemann said. “It’s excess documentation, believe me, we have followed that process on all cases, and I’m not talking on 1MDB only,” he said.



Such talk was impossible to maintain once the July 20th DOJ court filing on asset seizures had been published to an astonished world.

That court filing shows in devastating detail how Falcon Bank was involved in the suspicious transfers of enormous sums of money linked to the activities of its Aabar Board members in both the two power purchase bond issues for 1MDB in 2012 (worth $3.5 billion) described as the Aabar/BVI phase of the scam.

It was already highly irregular that a small private bank should receive the full total of a multi-billion dollar state loan to take care of. But apparently Leemann’s due diligence then proceeded to fail to pick up that the outfit to which he was then immediately instructed to send on $1.4 billion of that money was a bogus company set up by his own bosses at the bank, Aabar Investments PJS BVI.



The Aabar/ BVI phase 2012 – Falcon transferred $1.4 billion from 1MDB to its bosses accounts at the bogus BVI company Aabar Investments PJS Limited. Failure of due dilligence?

In the next 2013 1MDB bond issue, called the ‘Tanore phase’ of the scam, Falcon played and even more obviously culpable role.

Tanore Finance Corporation was a shell company set up by the Singaporean Eric Tan, who was a known associate of Jho Low, a highly controversial and politically exposed associate of Najib Razak. Nevertheless, Falcon’s Singapore branch took on the account and assisted in setting up the offshore company registered in the BVI.



The Tanore phase of the 1MDB scam also involved Falcon Bank

The bank then willingly received in the course of just 48 hours no less than three separate payments in Mid-March 2013 totalling a boggling $835,000,000 into this one Tanore Finance account.

A day later Falcon sent $620,000,000 of that straight on from this account to the Prime Minister of Malaysia’s account in Kuala Lumpur!

Presumably, Eduardo and his colleagues did not turn a hair that their cupboard sized branch in Singapore appeared to have acquired such a massively wealthy single client whose shell account received these enormous payments out of the blue and then transferred them on to the Prime Minister of Malaysia?

The ‘open book’ bank then obligingly followed up with a second payment from Tanore to Najib of $61,000,000 a couple of days later.

Eduardo Leemann has left his post and a bank which will have to deal with the regulators on this matter, alongside fellow institutions such as BSI, UBS, Goldman, ANZ/AmBank, Coutts, JP Morgan, Rothschild and others.

He, like the other former top players involved is likely to find that he is wanted for extensive questioning on these matters in an individual capacity, despite having retired from banking life.  Hanspeter Brunner, for example, has been denied exit from Singapore while the BSI investigation continues.

Totally against more regulation

Yet is was this Swiss senior banker who not long before was quoted denouncing the idea of any further regulation of the banking system.  We quoted Leemann from an interview with the Abu Dhabi media saying he was “totally against more banking regulation”:

“I understand you need regulation but more regulation does not solve the problem. The most regulated market has always been the United States. What happened in 2008? Regulation as such does not solve the issues….” said Leemann.



In fact, Leemann’s interpretation of the causes of the financial crash was of course self-serving and in opposition to what is widely agreed went wrong.

Inadequate regulation is what is widely recognised as having caused the failures of 2008. Illegal and irresponsible greedy bankers had broken all their own rules and guidelines in order to make a fast buck and lax oversight had let it happen.

Yet, over the following years more lax over-sight of banks such as Falcon had clearly allowed more illegal and irresponsible transfers to continue un-investigated, allowing global scams such as 1MDB to almost pass unnoticed.

The first enormous misappropriation of 1MDB money took place through the Zurich branch of RBS Coutts Zurich back in 2009.

Yet, nothing whatsoever had been done to investigate the matter right up until early 2015, when finally Xavier Justo released his devastating documents to Sarawak Report and Malaysia’s business paper The Edge, who both started reported on the scandal.

Either the banks did not raise the “Red Flag” money laundering alerts which ought to have been raised to central regulators in Malaysia, Switzerland, Britain and the United States as the interested parties in this particular transaction or the regulators concerned in all these countries simply failed to act.

The same applies to each and every other bloated, politically sensitive mega-1MDB transaction that occurred in ensuing years. Was it the banks who failed to notify the regulators in Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, America, Hong Kong and elsewhere or was it those regulators who failed to do their jobs?

The business media, meanwhile, did little more than muse over 1MDB’s banking irregularities. After all, who pays for them and all their adverts?

It is a huge relief for all Malaysians that at last this scandal has been addressed by all those forces. But, it well might not have been the case had the still imprisoned Xavier Justo not nailed his former bosses.

But it is clear that global regulators have failed to nab rogue banks, who have failed to nab rogue bankers for far too long and it is time to make the system start working for the public instead of protecting these dangerous illegal operators.



The intention behind the 1MDB money flows are illustrated by this WSJ chart showing the DOJ money trail, which was orchestrated by Malaysian Official 1, the man in sole charge of the fund,


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