Goldman Sachs’ US$3.9B Settlement an Opportunity for Muhyiddin to Send Najib to Jail

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From saying he didn’t know Jho Low, to insisting no money was lost from 1MDB funds, to being clueless about US$681 million found in his personal bank accounts, to claiming he had been scammed by partner-in-crime Jho Low, former Prime Minister Najib Razak has been scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses to escape prison.

Najib has consistently claimed innocence. Yet, the former Malaysian leader along with dozens of powerful defence lawyers, including the so-called hotshot lawyer Shafee Abdullah, had resorted to cheap tricks to prolong the 1MDB trial. Lawyer Shafee had claimed that his pet dogs attacked and injured him, while Najib has had swollen eyes, among the reasons cooked to postpone the trial.

Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali

But amazingly, Najib had no problem spending the dubious money banked to his private accounts, despite screaming that he had no idea how millions ended there. He initially claimed he didn’t know Jho Low, until a photograph of them aboard a luxury yacht emerged. He insisted no money was lost with 1MDB, but a mind-boggling RM50.75 billion of debt has been established.

During the trial, the crook said he was able to verify his signatures on some photocopied documents, but on other incriminating photocopied documents, he conveniently could not recognise his own signatures. For some weird reasons, PM Najib, who was also the finance minister, had blocked his deputy from recovering RM3.6 billion frozen in Switzerland.

Najib told the court that he never checked his bank statements which were sent to his private residence at Jalan Langgak Duta – even to see if the so-called RM2.6 billion (US$681 million) donation from the royal house of Saudi Arabia came through. With his partner Jho Low hiding in the Middle East and China, Najib conveniently claims he had been scammed.

Now, Goldman Sachs has finally agreed to settle with Malaysia over its involvement in the arrangement of three bonds for 1MDB. The settlement includes a cash payment of US$2.5 billion (RM10.6 billion) and a guarantee of a full recovery value of at least US$1.4 billion (RM5.9 billion) in assets that are traceable to the diverted proceeds from the three bond transactions.

Clearly, this is the best proof that money had indeed been stolen by the previous Najib administration. In the same breath, the settlement also proves that contrary to Najib’s years of lies that no money was missing from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad funds, at least US$4.5 billion (RM19.1 billion) had indeed been siphoned, plundered and misappropriated.

Coming from the horse’s mouth, the Ministry of Finance admitted that in total, including the assets and monies already received from the US Department of Justice, the amount of recovered funds to be repatriated now stands at US$4.5 billion (RM19.1 billion). Why would the US Government and Goldman Sachs agree to return so much money if there was no thievery in the first place?

Still, it’s pathetic that Finance Minister Zafrul Aziz has the cheek to claim credit for the long-fought battle first initiated by the previous government. Zafrul, the same man who had participated in a music video singing songs of praise for Najib Razak, said the latest agreed settlement amount was significantly higher than the US$1.75 billion (RM7.4 billion) offered under the Pakatan Harapan administration back in 2019.

First of all, without the previous Pakatan Harapan government’s effort of putting 22 months of hard work fighting Goldman Sachs, a corporation already known as the “Giant Vampire Squid of Capitalism”, not a single cent could be recovered. The backdoor Muhyiddin government was merely reaping the fruits of Pakatan Harapan’s labour, especially former Attorney-General Tommy Thomas.

Secondly, it was Pakatan Harapan government who refused to entertain the original pittance offer of US$1.75 billion from Goldman. It had wanted US$7.5 billion, hence, the final settlement which Zafrul crows all day was actually just a little over half (52%) of the amount demanded. It’s a shame that the backdoor government didn’t try hard enough to get close to US$6 billion, at the very least.

But it’s not hard to see why the new Muhyiddin government was desperate to take the deal. With pressure to call for a snap nationwide election, the prime minister needs an injection of massive amounts of money to fund his own election as the shaky and fragile Perikatan Nasional backdoor government is supported only by a razor-thin two majority in the 222-seat Parliament.

The US$2.5 billion (RM10.6 billion) cash, to be paid in two months by Goldman, will come in handy for Muhyiddin to grease his party’s election machinery and to buy votes. However, fireworks could spark again next week. As mentioned previously, at least three fireworks are expected to be unleashed in the month of July.

One of the fireworks saw the High Court allowing the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) a summary judgment in the RM1.69 billion tax suit against Najib. Three days ago (July 22), the disgraced former PM Najib was ordered by Justice Ahmad Bache to settle a whopping RM1.69 billion in unpaid taxes over seven years while he was still in office (until his stunning defeat in the 2018 General Election).

The second fireworks – the most spectacular – will see the High Court deliver its verdict on July 28 (next Tuesday) over seven charges against Najib Razak for plundering RM42 million of SRC International Bhd money. The former premier, who is holding a lame duck Prime Minister Muhyiddin to ransom, will know whether he is going to end up in jail or walk out a free man.

Based on the court’s decision to compel Najib to pay RM1.69 billion in unpaid tax and the latest settlement between Goldman Sachs and Malaysian government, there’s a possibility that Muhyiddin might send his former boss Najib to prison. The US$3.9 billion settlement would “guide” the High Court to conclude that Najib is guilty of corruption and abuse of power.

Of course, drama queen Muhyiddin could deny any political interference in an unfavourable verdict for Najib. Likewise, the crook could still appeal his conviction in the Court of Appeal and escalate it to the Federal Court, the highest court and the final appellate court in the country. A conviction, even at the High Court level against Najib, will boost Muhyiddin popularity.

More importantly, by eliminating Najib, even temporarily, it will solve 99% of the problems associated with seat allocations between Muhyddin’s party (Bersatu or PPBM) and UMNO, the party that is trying to revive its dominance in the loosely glued “Malay-Only” Perikatan Nasional government. Unless Muhyiddin was retarded, he knew his survival is closely linked to Najib.

If Najib ends up a free man next week (July 28), he will flex his muscle and sing like a canary, ready to get rid of his competitor Muhyiddin instead. Make no mistake, Najib is not ready to quit politics and is extremely determined to make a comeback as the prime minister. To solve the problems of domination in Perikatan Nasional, there could only be one tiger on the mountain.

Voices are getting louder for Muhyiddin to rejoin his old party – UMNO (United Malays National Organisation). Yesterday, UMNO deputy president Mohamad Hasan said the party will welcome the PM back if he wishes to return, the highest-ranking leader of the party to say so publicly. Heck, the No. 2 man even said the party can reverse the sacking of Muhyddin from the party in 2016.

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Yes, the problem of PPBM and UMNO fighting over Malay-majority seats in the coming election is so serious that the UMNO deputy president was willing to spin, twist and bend over the UMNO Constitution just to accommodate Muhyiddin. Interestingly, Muhyiddin was UMNO deputy president when he was fired by then-UMNO president Najib for questioning the 1MDB scandal.

However, Mohamad Hasan’s proposal gives a naughty impression that UMNO’s president Zahid Hamidi is willing to give way. Zahid himself has been slapped with 87 charges related to money laundering and corruption and criminal breach of trust (CBT). Sending Najib to prison will crush the Najib-Zahid combo, putting pressure on Zahid to either play ball or go to jail like Najib.

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Perhaps Mohamad Hasan was suggesting that all the problems will go away by sending both Najib and Zahid to jail, leaving the president post empty for Muhyiddin. Don’t underestimate UMNO’s ability to reverse the clock and argue that since the party can reverse Muhyiddin’s sacking, regardless how ridiculous it may sound, he is still the second-in-command.

And if Najib goes to jail, Muhyiddin automatically becomes UMNO’s leader. Bersatu or PPBM can be disbanded and everyone is welcome to cross over to UMNO, and live happily ever after. Opportunist Mohamad Hasan, of course, has no problem if his boss Zahid is sent to jail because he will still remain as the party’s deputy president – serving Muhyiddin.

Muhyiddin has everything to gain, but nothing to lose by plunging competitor UMNO into a leadership crisis. After all, the party is already divided into various camps. Most of the UMNO warlords were only interested in power (which they have already been rewarded by the prime minister), not defending Najib or Zahid. However, if Muhyiddin is brave enough to send Najib to jail, the Opposition will be in trouble.

Most crucially, a verdict of guilt for Najib, even at this early stage, will definitely please former PM Mahathir Mohamad, who is giving a hard time to Muhyiddin. Without UMNO de-facto leader Najib (and Zahid) running the party, Mahathir could easily be persuaded to rejoin UMNO too, bringing Sabah Warisan’s support for Muhyiddin. – Finance Twitter