The United States, Switzerland and Singapore have been at the forefront of seizures of illegal assets from 1MDB, which attracted the attention of the Malaysian people sufficiently for them to vote out their government and elect a new leadership that has made the retrieval of those assets a priority.
Very well and good. The mechanism by which the governments of those countries return these assets to the people of Malaysia will hopefully be as expeditious as possible and will represent a huge step forward in global goodwill and cooperation, given the principles of decency behind those seizures and the man hours and foreign tax dollars that went in to capturing back all that cash.
Malaysians have every reason to be truly grateful to the foreign investigators, who played their part in netting the 1MDB billions, particularly since the case was so ‘cutting edge’ that it would have been extremely easy to take no notice.
Australia, for example, played little proactive part in hunting misappropriations by Najib’s sick regime and nor did Britain.
Indeed, it seems likely that 1MDB will go down as a test case in asset seizure, which will set principles for the future. Previously, it generally took the removal of a tyrant for asset tracing to swing in motion; Prince Jeffrey of Brunei and the Marcos family of the Philippines had first to be ejected and for the governments themselves to demand restitution.
However, in the blatant case of 1MDB, these foreign law enforcers acted according to the principles of money laundering legislation in advance of any requests from the then government of Malaysia.
That was big progress for ordinary people against power abusers and that progress needs to continue, world wide.
What About The $600 Million Goldman Fee?
It means that, goodwill prevailing, the United States will be in a position, together with Switzerland and Singapore, to send back without too much trouble a few billion ringgit to help the new Finance Minister sleep better through his awful experience of taking over Najib’s department.
However, there is clearly far more money outstanding. What now has to be asked is to what extent massive global institutions – primarily the banks involved in this disgraceful heist – will find themselves ruled by the same concience as their country hosts?
Goldman Sachs (GSI), for example, took $600 million dollars in commission for three bond issues totalling $6,5 billion for 1MDB, that any twenty year old could have spotted as suspicious. Of course GSI is populated only with the most enormously clever people (which is why they expect to be exponentially rewarded) which leaves one wondering why this top banker in the world failed to spot the flaws in this deal that netted so much cash?
It can hardly be a coincidence that it was recently reported that Malaysia has issued an arrest warrant for the GSI link man and Malaysian national Roger Ng, who started as the key contact point for the new South East Asia boss, Tim Leissner (featured with celebrity wife Kimora Lee Simmons) but then resigned from the bank after questions started over the vast 1MDB commissions.
Nor can it be a coincidence that Goldman sacked Leissner once Sarawak Report and others had thrown light upon the matter.
So, where does this go next? Because, very large bonuses indeed permeatted the higher echelons of this bank following the influx of the $600 million from these questionable bond deals.
Will law enforcers do what the law would appear to require them to do, which is to arrest the prime actors in this rather obvious misappropriation by Goldman Sachs or will GSI do the right thing and volunteer their mistake and regurgitate those gross bonuses in favour of causes such as health and education in Malaysia?
Other third parties are also in a position to be scrutinised, but Goldman looks particularly exposed, Abu Dhabi’s Khadem Al Qubaisi (top Gulf business owner and proxy) ought surely come next.