The audio recording of telephone exchange between HRH Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Najib Razak shows the former premier seeking help to arrange a loan for his stepson Riza Aziz to disguise acts of money laundering.
This conversation follows the filing by US Department of Justice (DoJ) on July 20, 2016, seeking to seize dozens of properties worth US$3.5 billion (RM14.35 billion) tied to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
The suits, filed in Los Angeles, sought to seize assets “involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1MDB”.
None of the suits named Najib, but they named Riza as a “relevant individual” in the case. They also named Jho Low and Abu Dhabi government officials Khadem al-Qubaisi and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.
The conversations between Najib and the crown prince are in two audio clips released by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today.
They took place on July 22, 2016, at separate times.
Excerpts of transcript on telephone conversations have been edited for clarity:
First conversation on July 22, 2016, 8pm
HRH: Mr Prime Minister, how are you sir?
Najib: I’m delighted to speak to you, Your Highness. I hope you and your family are well.
HRH: Everybody is well. How is your family there?
Najib: Good and well here. Of course, we are experiencing a bit of a dark cloud as a result of yesterday’s announcement by the Department of Justice. That’s why, Your Highness, it’s important for us to resolve this impasse with respect to 1MDB and IPIC (International Petroleum Investment Co) as soon as possible. So that we have closure as soon as possible.
Because it’s embarrassing to both countries. It’s embarrassing to Malaysia and embarrassing to UAE as well and the personalities who are close to you.
So, I hope that we can find a solution as soon as possible. But it’s difficult for me to talk to you on the phone. Would it be possible for us to meet as soon as possible, so that we can work this out?
HRH: Mr Prime Minister, it will be fine with me. The only catch is I will be with Sheikh Khalifa (Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, UAE president). He is in medical treatment now…for a check-up for about five days. I am still with him tomorrow and (will) stay with him. But is it okay after that?
Najib: Where will Your Highness be?
HRH: I will be home about seven to eight days here.
Najib: Seven to eight days? Errr…
HRH: If you think this is too late, I can arrange something else. I can have Khaldoon (Al-Mubarak, Mubadala Development CEO) talk to you wherever you are. And sit with you and talk about it. He is somebody that I trust completely.
Najib: Yes. Where will Your Highness be on Sunday?
HRH: I will be leaving with Sheikh Khalifa.
Najib: You are leaving, what time on Sunday?
HRH: I’m not sure.
Najib: You’re not sure. Not in the morning? Would it be possible if I were to meet you on Sunday morning?
Najib: I’ll fly over on Saturday and be with you on Sunday morning. After our discussion, you can proceed with your trip. This is very urgent, actually.
If we do not resolve this, the matter could escalate.
HRH: Can I call you back in two hours?
Najib: Okay, sure, you can call me say 11.30 our time. Thank you.
Second conversation on July 22, 2016, 11.30pm
HRH: Mr Prime Minister, I apologise for being late.
Najib: You’re very prompt. Not to worry, Your Highness.
HRH: Mr Prime Minister, I have consulted my guys here and I find Sunday (inaudible). It will be unproductive for you and for me.
Mr Prime Minister, Khaldoon has full authority from me. And I really want to find a solution for this problem. I think it’s very important that somebody meets him and (inaudible) and we should go for it. It is in our interest to resolve this.
Najib: Yes, it is our mutual interest to resolve this. So, you don’t think I should fly over as people will know about it?
HRH: Yes, I think people will know about it.
Najib: I see…mmmmm. But we really need to resolve this.
HRH: I can go there.
Najib: You want to come here?
HRH: I think I can go there, Mr Prime Minister. Or your minister can come and meet.
Najib: Can Khaldoon come here?
HRH: I will call him now. He is in California for a visit and I can let him shoot from there.
Najib: I have this personal request, Your Highness. That relates to Riza, my son. His movie.
The problem is relatively small if there can be an agreement with Sheikh Mansour (Zayed al Nahyan, UAE deputy prime minister) to have a loan agreement signed and he will pay back according to the schedule. That will show that it’s a legitimate financing package and not money laundering, you see.
At the moment, he is under a bit of pressure in America. We are worried about him, in case they make him the scapegoat.
I would appreciate if the big package looks (inaudible). I believe we can find a solution. I would appreciate if that agreement can be signed quickly with Sheikh Mansour or whoever is designated so that he can begin to pay back. He’s paid back some and he can continue to pay back so that it will appear as a legitimate loan agreement, which it is.
Because when he received it, the banks cleared his source of money. So, he was not aware at all where it came from.
I don’t want him to be a victim when he was totally unaware about the source of money. He genuinely believed it was from Aabar under the instructions of Sheikh Mansour.
And remember, Your Highness also talked about helping him when he was in Abu Dhabi.
Najib: So, I need that agreement to be sorted out quickly, Your Highness. That’s my special request. As soon as possible. I mean if by Monday or Tuesday we need to have the agreement signed. Can you suggest how we can do that?
HRH: I’ll be (inaudible) Mr Prime Minister. (inaudible) I understand it’s your son and that we really really want (inaudible).
Najib: He’s totally innocent. All he wants is to make movies and there was an offer of loan from Sheikh Mansour from Aabar. Also, you mentioned it when we were at lunch at the restaurant about supporting him. Before, he thought everything was fine. But now they are trying to connect him with 1MDB’s money, and it came as a shock to him.
HRH: Mr Prime Mminister, Inshallah.
Najib: Time is of the essence Your Highness. We cannot leave it a day longer because we don’t want the Department of Justice to suddenly move against him.
Najib: Where do we go from here? He’s got all the documents with him.
HRH: Let me talk to (inaudible) Mr Prime Minister. I will let him call you to arrange something immediately.
Najib: Do you have the number for Amhari (Effendi Nazaruddin, Najib’s special officer)? If they can call Amhari straight away and then can we work out and resolve it?
HRH: Mr Prime Minister, believe me, I want to finish this. This is bad…
Najib: Thank you, thank you. This is very bad. Very serious and it could lead to something very unforeseen and catastrophic for me and for our government and for you and your side. So, it is to our mutual interest that we, being so close, that we need to resolve. It is not something that is impossible. It is something within our means to resolve it. What do you want me to do, Your Highness?
HRH: I’ll get Amhari, Mr Prime Minister and then we will discuss.
Najib: Call Amhari? OK, OK, I’ll let Amhari know straight away. – TMI