A PROMINENT lawmaker in the United Kingdom has tabled a motion to debate the multi-billion dollar 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal in the House of Commons in London.
Ann Clwyd, an opposition MP from the Labour party, tabled the Early Day Motion (EDM) on Wednesday, according to an announcement published on the House’s website.
The motion, which was listed under item 212 of the parliamentary agenda, said that the House is “alarmed” about the alleged misappropriation of billions of dollars from 1MDB, the state-owned investment firm created by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to spur development in the country.
The EDM also pointed to the allegations implicating Najib, citing ongoing investigations in several countries, including the US and Switzerland.
“(The house) further notes the statement by the FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, in connection with the largest single action so far by the US Department of Justice’s Kleptocracy Asset Initiative, that the Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale,” the announcement read.
In June, the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) launched a third civil suit to recover about US$540 million in assets that authorities say were stolen by financiers associated with 1MDB.
US investigators have traced nearly US$700 million to bank accounts that were allegedly siphoned from 1MDB into Najib’s personal account. The leader, however, has denied taking money from 1MDB or any other entity for personal gain.
Apart from the DoJ, investigators from at least six other countries, including Singapore, Switzerland, and Australia are looking into the 1MDB case. However, the scandal is not being investigated domestically.
Earlier this month, Singapore jailed a former wealth manager of Swiss bank BSI for four and a half years in jail over illicit movement of SGD23.9 million (US$17.3 million) of 1MDB-linked funds at the now defunct BSI Bank Singapore.
The banker was among three BSI staffers convicted and sentenced on charges stemming from the money-laundering investigation linked to 1MDB.
Malaysia, on the other hand, has not made any prosecutions against anyone directly linked to 1MDB. In early 2016, Malaysia’s Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared the prime minister of any wrongdoing.
The only individual given a prison sentence in the country so far has been opposition politician Rafizi Ramli of the People’s Justice Party (PKR), who leaked to the media details of the Auditor-General’s audit on 1MDB after the government placed it under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.
Rafizi, who was slapped with an 18-month prison term, has yet to serve the time, however, as he is appealing the sentence.
The motion filed by Clwyd, who is known for her human rights advocacy, said the scandal also highlights the continuing restrictions on freedom of expression and of association in Malaysia, as well as the alleged misuse of the Sedition Act.
It said the Sedition Act was particularly targeted at government critics, including Rafizi among other opposition politicians and MPs, such as Anwar Ibrahim, an opposition leader now serving time for sodomy. The critics, it said, were jailed following legal proceedings which “fell far short of international standards”.
The EDM also called on Malaysia to allow international observers, including from a range of Commonwealth countries, to observe its upcoming General Elections, due in 2018.
“(This is) to demonstrate its commitment to free and fair elections, particularly given Malaysia will be taking up the Chair-in-Office of the Commonwealth in 2020,” it said.
It also called on the UK government to ensure that allegations of misappropriated funds from Malaysia having been used to by assets in the UK is thoroughly investigated.