A SENIOR Malaysian minister has openly named Prime Minister Najib Razak as ‘Malaysian Official 1’, the previously unidentified individual mentioned by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in its lawsuit on the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.
The DOJ has not expressly confirmed the identity of this official but the country’s opposition leaders and anti-government dissidents have insisted that it refers to Najib, who oversees the fund.
In an inter view with BBC, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, reportedly agreed that “Malaysian Official 1”, or “MO1” for short, is the prime minister.
He stressed, however, that although it was “obvious” that the person the DOJ mentioned over 30 times in its suit alluded to Najib, it was important to note why he was not directly named.
1MDB, a investment company fully owned by the Malaysian government, was created in 2009 by Najib to promote economic development projects. U.S. prosecutors said fund officials diverted more than $3.5 billion through a web of shell companies and bank accounts abroad.
Fella is quite a prankster. Just to catch some activist, he'd admit to be MO1.
— dimsum (@evildimsum) September 1, 2016
On Saturday, some 1,000 Malaysians converged on the streets of the capital of Kuala Lumpur demanding that the authorities take action against “MO1”.
“I believe everyone knows who he is, but the fact of the matter is, instead of asking me that question, the question that should be asked is; why is it (that) the Department of Justice did not name is ‘MO1’ by name?” Abdul Rahman asked in the interview.
“That tells you that the Department of Justice feels that whoever is supposed to be ‘MO1’ is not involved in the 1MDB saga.”
— Charles Santiago (@mpklang) September 1, 2016
Abdul Rahman’s remark is widely considered as an ‘official’ confirmation that Najib was the said “MO1′” mentioned by the U.S. authorities.
“So probably what they’re (DOJ) trying to say is that, they reference him 36 times in that document for the purpose of clarity rather than saying that MO1, whoever that is, is guilty by association or directly,” Abdul Rahman said.
Finally, gov't officially admits Najib is MO1 (MP SPEAKS) – Lim Kit Siang (Mkini) https://t.co/g5BhKwHKIa
— Lim Kit Siang (@limkitsiang) September 1, 2016
“I’ve said it openly and publicly, if you read the documents, obviously people say that it is the prime minister, but when I’ve been asked this question, but I will always asked back; why didn’t the Department of Justice name him using his proper name?”
He said this was because Najib is not part of the investigation, nor the focus of the probe.
“It is not about him (Najib), it is about a bunch of people who have been named in the documents who have been accused or alleged of misappropriating funds and the Department of Justice will being this to the court and let the court decide,” he said.
In the suit, the department named several individuals as being involved, including Riza Aziz, who is Najib’s stepson, businessman Jho Low, Khadem Abdulla Al-Qubaisi and Mohammed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.