DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang wants to know whether the admission by Abdul Rahman Dahlan that the Malaysian Official 1 (MO1) stated in the US Department of Justice (DOJ) civil suit against 1MDB is Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was made with approval of Najib and his cabinet.
Lim opined that the explanatory statement by the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, issued after the admission, would indicate that it had caught the government, including the other cabinet members, by surprise.
“Although there is no way to ascertain whether Rahman’s admission had caught the prime minister himself by surprise.
“This is one of the rare occasions where a minister’s interview with the electronic media had to be followed by a written explanatory statement,” Lim said in a statement today.
Rahman (photo) in an interview with British media network BBC confirmed that MO1 was Najib, and he pointed out that the reason the DOJ did not name Najib by his proper name was because he was not part of the investigations.
In a statement later, Rahman stressed that there was a stark difference between being named as a subject of an investigation and being referred to in the probe.
“The difference is more mundane – between a civil action ‘in rem’ from an action ‘in personam’,” Lim said.
He said the difference between the five persons named in the DOJ lawsuits and the four persons referred to by code names was in fact, very simple.
“The DOJ filing is a ‘civil action in rem’ (against the thing) for seizure of assets located primarily, but not exclusively, in the United States as a result of a series of criminal conducts amounting to an international conspiracy for theft, embezzlement, misappropriation and money laundering of US$3.5 billion in 1MDB funds and not an action ‘in personam’ (against the person).”
‘DOJ lawsuits do not preclude criminal action’
Lim advised Rahman to ask attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali to brief him on actions “in rem” and “in personam”.
“Clearly, Rahman does not seem to be aware, despite the passage of six weeks, that the DOJ lawsuits do not preclude criminal action, as the forfeiture is but a first step to prevent dissipation of the specified assets.
“Upon forfeiture of the assets, it is likely that there would be criminal proceedings to prosecute those responsible for the alleged misappropriation of 1MDB funds and the laundering of those funds in the United States and elsewhere,” he added.
The Gelang Patah MP also said the nation’s good name and reputation warranted priority and immediate protection by purging and cleansing of the international indictment that Malaysia had become an overnight global kleptocracy.
“After the government’s admission that ‘Malaysian Official 1’ is none other than Najib, what is its next step to protect and salvage Malaysia’s good name and reputation in the world?” Lim asked.
On July 20, DOJ filed civil suits to seize assets in the United States that it claimed were purchased using funds siphoned from 1MDB. It plans to return the proceeds from the sales of these assets to Malaysia.
It did not name “MO1” but described him as a senior government official who was previously investigated by Malaysian authorities for receiving US$681 million in his personal bank account.
DOJ also claimed that MO1 received US$731 million in total, which originated from 1MDB.
Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz (on left in photo) and businessman Jho Low, who is reportedly close to the prime minister’s family, are named in the DOJ suit.
Also named are Abu Dhabi government officials Khadem Abdulla Al-Qubaisi and Mohammed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.
Al Qubaisi and Al-Husseiny are former officials in a sovereign fund in Abu Dhabi that participated in deals with 1MDB.
Malaysian attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali has cleared Najib of receiving US$681 million on the grounds that it was a “donation” from the Arab royal family, but the DOJ said the money came from 1MDB.
The DOJ said at least US$3.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB and it is seeking to confiscate US$1 billion in assets, purportedly acquired with the stolen money.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing in the matter and said he has never taken public funds for personal gain.