Who are the real thieves or crooks?
Riza Aziz, the stepson of former Prime Minister Najib Razak and favourite son of Rosmah Mansor, can now laugh all the way to the bank. In fact, the entire crooked family of Najib-Rosmah was extremely delighted. If Riza can be freed, that means Najib and his wife Rosmah will most likely walk away free too. And Mahathir is terribly upset.
Mahathir, who had recently been unseated as the 7th Prime Minister after leading the country for the second time for just 22 months, whined, moaned and bitched that he was “confused” that a person charged with having stolen money could have charges withdrawn because he had agreed to return the money. Clearly, he was referring to the stepson of protégé-turn-nemesis Najib.
On July 5, 2019, Riza was slapped with five charges of money laundering involving US$248 million (RM1.25 billion), which were misappropriated from sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB). Under Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act 2001, those charges carry a fine not exceeding RM5 million or imprisonment not exceeding five years, or both.
However, after a change of government via a coup launched by the despicable traitor Muhyiddin Yassin, who happened to be Mahathir’s own lieutenant, the previous corrupt regime of Barisan Nasional made a spectacular return. Since then, the expectation is such that all the crooks charged under the now-collapsed Pakatan Harapan government will be freed – one after another.
Riza was stunningly discharged not amounting to an acquittal (DNAA) on May 14. But that was as good as a free get-out-of-jail card. He is required to return about US$107.3 million (RM465.3 million) worth of overseas assets which he acquired as part of the settlement. That was indeed a great deal. After stealing US$248 million, he just needs to return 43% of his loot.
As expected, Najib was not impressed that Mahathir had attacked Riza. Defending his stepson, the former PM argued that his stepson’s track record was better than Mahathir’s sons. Najib proudly compared Riza’s movie-producing business to Mahathir sons’ corporate deals. Najib showed off films like “The Wolf of Wall Street”, “Dumb and Dumber To” and “Daddy’s Home”.
All those Hollywood films made great profits, unlike Mahathir’s sons’ corporate deals, bragged Najib. He lectured Mahathir, reminding him how Petronas had bailed out his son. In the 1998 Asian Financial Crisis, the national oil company splashed US$220 million to acquire Konsortium Perkapalan Bhd, a debt-laden shipping company controlled by Mirzan, Mahathir’s eldest son.
Najib also happily pointed out other corporate deals enjoyed by Mahathir’s sons such as the acquisition of Pantai Group of hospital, the appointment of Petron as official oil supplier to government and projects awarded to Opcom. Perhaps Najib was trying to say that those who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
Pantai hospital was part of Parkway Holdings Ltd, which in turn was started by Malaysians (Tan family of IGB Corp and the Ang family of Petaling Garden) in the 1970s. The idea to get into private hospital business saw Parkway acquire Singapore’s Gleneagles Hospital Pte Ltd (1987), followed by the Penang Medical Centre, Mount Elizabeth and Parkway East hospitals (1997).
In December 1995, Vincent Tan together with Indonesian businessman Johannes Kotjo announced plans to acquire a 20% stake in Parkway. Subsequently, Mokhzani Mahathir’s Tongkah Holdings gained control of Pantai Holdings. Later, the second son of Mahathir relinquished his Pantai stake in Parkway to DBS of Singapore and Lim Tong Yong to relieve him of debt problems.
On the appointment of Petron Fuel International Sdn Bhd as supplier of petrol and diesel for federal government vehicles because Mahathir’s son, Mirzan, was a director of Petron Corporation, Najib talked as if Petron was the sole supplier. In truth, Petronas and Shell, who have been suppliers since 1977, remain as authorised suppliers. The inclusion of Petron was to provide a third choice.
True, optical fibre manufacturer Opcom Holdings Berhad, in which Mukhriz and Mokhzani were involved, would benefit from the RM21.6 billion project of the National Fiberisation and Connectivity Plan (NFCP). But it’s also true that long before the project was announced in August 2019, Mukhriz has been steadily disposing of his shares since January that year.
Regardless, the corporate deals involving the sons of Mahathir at a time when the daddy was the prime minister are certainly not right. However, at best, and unfortunately, it screams nepotism and cronyism. The business dealings attracted the issue of morality and integrity. So, here’s one question for Najib – why didn’t he charge any of Mahathir’s son when he was the PM from 2009-2018?
That’s because nepotism and cronyism are not legally wrong in the country. Heck, you can even mock and insult the families of Mahathir of their business incompetence and idiocy. They suck big time in the business and the juniors would run to daddy for bailouts every now and then. But clearly, they didn’t break the law, otherwise why were they not charged for thievery?
Yes, Mahathir was cleverer than Najib. Had Riza Aziz benefited from corporate deals the same way Mirzan, Mukhriz and Mokhzani did, there was no way Mahathir could charge the stepson of Najib for stealing the country’s money in broad daylight. Instead, Riza had received – US$248 million (RM1.25 billion) of stolen money – via wire transfer into his company, Red Granite Productions Inc.
More importantly, the money that was transferred into Riza’s company accounts (so that he can make films) originated from 1MDB – after a complex and sophisticated web of money laundering activities – as a result of Najib Razak and his partner-in-crime Jho Low siphoning a bulk of the cash raised from an initial US$3 billion state-guaranteed 2013 bond issue led by Goldman Sachs.
The US-DoJ investigation results say that over US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from the 1MDB fund, with some of the money used to buy a private jet, a superyacht, Picasso paintings, jewellery and real estate. This is the part which Najib can never explain satisfactorily. Why did Riza agree to pay US$60 million to the US government in order to settle a civil lawsuit?
If indeed Riza’s company, Red Granite, was as innocent as a lamb, why agree to pay US$60 million of hard-earned money at all? Ahh, this is where the serial liar Najib spins and twists to scam his band of gullible and blind followers. He would argue that it was just a civil lawsuit – not a criminal lawsuit – so his stepson Riza Aziz was actually innocent.
In actual fact, the civil lawsuit was chosen and preferred by the US-DoJ so that Riza’s company cannot sell anything or try to get their money out of the US. Only through civil lawsuits that Red Granite’s assets can be frozen. If a criminal lawsuit had been filed instead, the US government has to win their case in the court first, hence allowing the crook to potentially sell everything.
Riza should not only disagree to pay US$60 million in the settlement, but counter-sue the US government for billions of dollars – if indeed the money he received was clean and legitimate. Is Najib trying to say the US government can simply slap civil lawsuits against Walt Disney Pictures, Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, Columbia Pictures, and Paramount Pictures without any valid reason?
Najib tries to downplay civil lawsuits because he knew he could easily hoodwink his dumb supporters. Had his stepson refused to settle, the case could become a criminal lawsuit. In fact, the United States judiciary allows parallel proceedings of civil and criminal lawsuits – either concurrently or successively. But that’s something that Najib and his stepson do not dare to challenge.
Boasting about making huge profits from adult films in Hollywood does throw away the fact that Najib had stolen public money and Riza benefitted from it. Mahathir’s sons did not launder money, but Najib’s stepson certainly did. Mahathir’s sons were not slapped with civil lawsuits, let alone settlements, but Najib’s stepson did and paid US$60 million – an admission of guilt.
But who suddenly dropped the Riza’s case? At first, the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) claimed that the agreement to drop the charges had been agreed between the prosecution and Riza legal team by former Attorney General Tommy Thomas. Furious and shocked, Tommy denied – “I am terribly disappointed that the MACC had to make this false statement.”
Finally, Idrus Harun, the new Attorney General appointed by newly crowned backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin, offered a flabbergasting explanation. He said he had been “advised” that former AG Tommy Thomas agreed “in principle” to drop the case. He also claimed that similarly, the MACC agreed to free the stepson of Najib. In short, the new AG Idrus acted based on “hearsay”.
Why did the new MACC Chief Commissioner Azam Baki insist that it was Thomas’ instruction to free Riza Aziz, when his predecessor, Latheefa Koya, was involved too, if indeed AG Idrus Harun’s claim can be trusted to begin with? Besides, Thomas resigned on Feb 28, 2020 but as late as Apr 2, Riza’s lawyers were still awaiting a reply from the Attorney General’s Chambers.
AG Idrus Harun, amusingly, spoke and acted like an office boy. Even if his predecessor has agreed to discharge Riza, which Thomas didn’t, why must Idrus follow blindly and religiously as if Thomas’ advice was sacred and cannot be challenged? If Thomas’ opinion must be taken like a bible, does that mean his past decisions cannot be re-visited, including the dropping of LTTE charges?
Obviously, it’s not a coincidence that the stepson of Najib is discharged. Both the new chiefs of the attorney general’s chambers and the anti-corruption agency appear to have become puppets of thieves and crooks of the government, and they had the cheek to point fingers at former AG Tommy Thomas. Now, everyone can steal and when caught, just return half, and repeat the process.
Najib’s stepson was not punished at all. To add insult to the injury, the money that Riza Aziz agreed to return did not even belong to him in the first place. The best part is the stepson of the world’s biggest crook is rewarded with half a billion ringgit in the settlement. But the simple fact that Riza agrees to return money speaks volumes that he actually admits to thievery and money laundering. – Finance Twitter