Friday, August 28, 2015

Has Singapore seized Najib's Saudi "donation" : Is a Singapore -Malaysia diplomatic war brewing over ownership

by Ganesh Sahathevan

According to the latest reports on the 1 MDB scandal, which have not been denied by anyone,   a  USD 681 million  (and more?) "donation" that Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak says was given  him by some Saudi family  was transferred from Najib's private accounts at AmIslamic Bank in Malaysia to an account in Singapore, which has since been frozen.

Sarawak Report broke the story of how the funds were sent back to Singapore, and in its story provided this diagram:

How the money circulated.... despite numerous payments made to UMNO members in the form of cheques from the AmPrivate Bank account before and after the election

If the reports are correct then it is more likely than not that the Government of Singapore (GOS) has   enforced powers pursuant to that country's money laundering and other provisions that concern the proceeds of crime.These provisions allow the the GOS to forfeit  the proceeds of crime.
Malaysia and Najib will of course want those hundreds of millions back, but it is unlikely that Najib is going to ever convince Singapore of his "donation" story. Meanwhile, the confiscation does appear to be a loss to the Malaysian taxpayer, who ultimately bears the losses arsing from the 1 MDB scandal. If there is a change in leadership in Malaysia, it is likely that the new leadership will make strong representations to the GOS for the return of that money. However history suggests that it will not  be a straight forward matter. Readers may recall how Malaysians who had lived and worked in Singapore had difficulty accessing their CPF savings, and how that became an issue that had to be resolved as part of the negotiations over Malaysia's supply of raw water to Singapore.

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