Information leaked about a Singapore legal firm being appointed to recover money from 1MDB proceeds.
- A-G demands confidence and secrecy
- A general problem facing the entire administration, every minister, where secrets are revealed
- A consequence of one-party rule for six decades, individuals are still loyal to their previous political masters and attempting to hinder institutional reforms
Attorney-General Tommy Thomas has threatened to take legal action against civil servants who leak confidential information relating to state investment fund 1MDB.
“Some charges ought to be made for leaking such information,” Thomas said in response to a question from a lawyer during a special session with Malaysian Bar members.
The event is part of the four-day International Malaysia Law Conference.
Thomas was referring to media reports that Malaysia had appointed lawyers to recover billions of ringgit linked to troubled state firm 1MDB, money that was being kept in Singapore banks under the names of 53 individuals.
The reports on July 18 said Thomas had approved the appointment of Singapore firm Tan Rajah & Cheah to act for the Malaysian government.
Malaysia has to appoint a local legal firm because a court order is needed to recover the money which could run into billions of ringgit.
Thomas today said a representative of the legal firm called him after they read a Bernama report on the matter.
“As a lawyer, I am known to be very careful of private and confidential information,” he said.
He said similar problems were also faced by ministers under the new administration.
On another matter, Thomas said he decided to use the shipping law instead of anti-money laundering legislation to secure ownership of the luxury yacht Equanimity.
“The admiralty law gives us good title to the ship,” he said, adding that Malaysian shipping law and the judiciary would be put to test if businessman Low Taek Jho or anyone else laid claim to the yacht.
Thomas said he believed Malaysia had a strong claim over the yacht as it was held on constructive trust on behalf of the Malaysian people.
“This is because money stolen from 1MDB was used to buy the ship,” he added.
Thomas said Malaysia was able to bring back the ship due to cooperation from Indonesia and the United States.
“The ship was arrested based on an ex-parte order and Jho Low can appoint a local lawyer to set aside the order,” he said.
Thomas said if court proceedings went well, the ship could be sold and the money could be kept in a trust account within four to five months.
Most importantly, he said, the new ship owner would also obtain a good title.
“We are using the shipping law or else nobody will buy the ship (due to problems that may arise later),” he added. – FMT