Ex-premier Najib Abdul Razak has hit back at Dr Mahathir Mohamad for saying that he was “confused and concerned” over the plea bargain for his stepson Riza Abdul Aziz’s money laundering charges.
In a sarcastic and hard-hitting post that is likely to escalate the war of words between the two former prime ministers, Najib defended Riza’s track record and took a veiled swipe at corporate deals which involved Mahathir’s sons.
“Since you are confused, I am going to type this slowly and in simple language,” said Najib in his Facebook post.
He said that Riza had movie projects that were successful and attracted the interest of wealthy investors, including the Abu Dhabi royal family who promised to invest in Riza’s movies.
“Those who promised at that time included the crown prince of Abu Dhabi (Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan) and the deputy prime minister of the UAE […] who also owns the Manchester City club,” said Najib in an apparent reference to Sheikh Mansour Zayed Al Nahyan.
“They even directed the CEO of Aabar to invest in Riza’s film project and there are investment agreements available,” added Najib.
He said that Riza’s films are quite successful.
“The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) generated US$392 million (RM1.7 billion) ticket sales compared to a production cost of US$100 million (RM430 million).
“The movie ‘Dumb and Dumber To’ (2014) generated US$169.8 million (RM730 million) in ticket sales with a US$50 million (RM215 million) production cost.
“Daddy’s Home (2015) movie generated US$242.8 million (RM1.04 billion) in sales compared to a cost of US$69 million (RM297 million).”
Under the plea bargain deal, Riza was granted a discharge not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) for charges of money laundering involving US$248 million (RM1.08 billion) linked to 1MDB funds.
In exchange, Riza is to return foreign assets estimated to be worth US$107.3 million (RM465.3 million).
Mahathir repeatedly stressed that he does not question the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court’s decision to grant the DNAA, but said that as a lawmaker, this indicates the law may need to be changed.
He went on to question whether this means that other “thieves” could be let off the hook as long as they agree to return the money they were accused of stealing.
“I don’t question the judge’s decision. Surely it is in accordance with the law, but I’m concerned that there are many other thieves in this country.
“If we go on this basis, the thief would be set free […] They steal billions and then they bring back billions by the truckload to the government and they say, ‘Here’s the money I stole, so don’t take action against me’.”
Najib hit back saying “This is not a Petronas bail-out for someone’s eldest child nor the case of Vincent Tan selling the Pantai Group of hospitals to a second child who was aged 35 years old at the time.
“These are also not Fomema concessions or contracts to supply all government hospitals provided to the Pantai Group after a particular child has purchased them.
“This is also not the appointment of Petron as the official company to supply oil to the government as soon as (the Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan) won GE14.”
Najib also highlighted an Opcom Bhd National Optical Fiber and Connectivity (NFCP) project worth RM21.1 billion which he claimed was created, approved and implemented by the Harapan government in less than a year and led to Opcom’s share price jumping 50 percent.
“Ketiga-tiga anak pun ada (All three children are there)” said Najib, in apparent reference to Mahathir’s three sons Mokhzani, Mirzan and Mukhriz.
He also claimed it was strange that other Harapan projects moved slowly, but the RM21.6 billion megaproject moved so fast.
Najib went on to claim that after the success of the movies, Riza began repaying the Abu Dhabi family’s original investments.
He referred to the audio recording of his phone conversation with the crown prince of Abu Dhabi which was revealed by former MACC chief Latheefa Koya, saying that Riza was innocent and the money was unfairly linked to 1MDB.
Najib went on to sarcastically thank Latheefa and the Harapan government for providing the audio recording evidence to help him and Riza.
“All transactions, bank accounts, use of funds, profits generated from funds, agreements and witnesses are abroad, especially in the United States.
“However, the US DOJ has never charged Riza with a criminal case. It’s just a civil suit that was settled there last year,” said Najib.
“But strangely enough, even though not one of Riza’s transactions happened in Malaysia, he is charged with criminal charges in Malaysia.”
He ended by saying that it was Harapan-appointed prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram and attorney-general Tommy Thomas who initiated the settlement process with Riza.
Thomas has already denied such a claim.
“If ‘he’ still does not understand, he can call Gopal Sri Ram or Tommy Thomas to explain to him,” said Najib, who also cited an MACC statement on the plea bargain, saying the MACC has no problem with the resolution of Riza’s case and it was still Thomas’ decision. – Malaysiakini