Malaysia's former PM 'asked UAE to fake evidence'

Malaysia's former PM 'asked UAE to fake evidence'
Malaysia's former PM 'asked UAE to fake evidence'

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - Malaysia's former prime minister Najib Razak allegedly asked the United Arab Emirates' crown prince for help in covering up the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, Reuters reported on Wednesday.

The disgraced former PM reportedly sought help from UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, asking him to fake evidence in an attempt the cover up the case, according to audio clips shared by Malaysian anti-graft officials.

Razak has rejected the accusations and the UAE government has not responded to request for comment.

Huge sums were stolen from the 1MDB state fund in a fraud allegedly involving former prime minister Razak and his cronies, and spent on everything from high-end real estate to a luxury super-yacht.

Audio clips played by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) reportedly reveal that the UAE's royal family were asked to help cover up the case.

Nine phone conversations between UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Razak's wife Rosmah Mansor, and Malaysian and Emirati officials allegedly provide proof of a "high-level criminal conspiracy", said MACC chief Latheefa Koya. 

"I'm studying the content and I have referred this matter to my lawyers. This has never been done in the history of this country," said Razak, who added he was "shocked by this revelation".

According to Koya, the recordings raised issues of "abuse of power, criminal conspiracy, obstruction of justice, compromising national security, fabrication of false evidence through foreign aides and connivance".

In one instance, Razak allegedly asked the UAE's crown prince to fabricate a low to make it seem as though Najib's stepson has received financing from a UAE state fund - and not the 1MDB.

"The premise is relatively small, if there can be an agreement with Sheikh Mansour to have a loan agreement signed… that will show that it is a legitimate financing package, it's not money laundering," Najib allegedly said, according to the Reuters report.


Malaysia's government is seeking to locate at least 18 billion ringgit ($4.34 billion) worth of assets believed to have been purchased with funds siphoned from a sovereign wealth fund.

The Southeast Asian state is working with at least five nations to recover the 1MDB funds, the country's anti-corruption chief said in November.

"This what we're working on... to locate, investigate and research where these properties are," Koya was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"As you know it's not just a one-off transaction, it's multiple transactions, so we need to work together with the countries to help us."

'Not satisfied'

In November, reports emerged that Malaysia had rejected a compensation offer of "less than $2 billion" from US banking giant Goldman Sachs for the role of its subsidiaries in the scandal.

Goldman's role has been under scrutiny as it helped arrange bond issues worth billions for 1MDB, with Malaysia claiming large amounts were misappropriated in the process and seeking $7.5 billion in redress.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who reopened an investigation into the scandal after seizing power last year, told The Financial Times his government spurned a much smaller offer by the Wall Street titan. 

"Goldman Sachs has offered something like less than $2 billion," he said in a Friday interview with the newspaper.

"We are not satisfied with that amount so we are still talking to them... If they respond reasonably we might not insist on getting that $7.5 billion," he added, without providing further details.

In 2018, Malaysia filed charges against three units of the bank and two ex-employees over the scandal. 

Additional charges were filed in August against 17 current and former executives of the three Goldman subsidiaries, which the Wall Street titan later said were "misdirected".

The 1MDB scandal has rocked Malaysia where corruption was a key issue in the country's last election, The New Arab's Malaysia expert, Taufiq Wan said.

"It rocked Malaysia's political landscape and brought Umno - a party that had been in power since independence - crashing down. Months after the election, Umno is in crisis and people are questioning whether it will survive."

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