Malaysia fines 80 people, companies in 1MDB case: anti-graft chief

Above, documents pertaining to the trial of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak over the 1MDB corruption allegations are brought to the High Court in Kuala Lumpur on August 28, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 07 October 2019

Malaysia fines 80 people, companies in 1MDB case: anti-graft chief

  • 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was set up in 2009 by former Prime Minister Najib Razak
  • Najib, who lost a general election last year, faces dozens of graft and money laundering charges

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has fined 80 individuals and entities for allegedly receiving money from state fund 1MDB, the country’s anti-graft chief said on Monday.
Malaysian and US investigators say about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), set up in 2009 by former Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib, who lost a general election last year, is now facing dozens of graft and money laundering charges over allegations that he received about $1 billion in 1MDB funds. He has pleaded not guilty.
Latheefa Koya, the head of Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), told reporters the agency was aiming to recover 420 million ringgits ($100 million) from individuals and entities who had allegedly received funds laundered through accounts linked to Najib.
“We have issued compound notices against all of these people and entities for the purpose of them to pay up the fine,” Latheefa said, adding that they could be fined up to 2.5 times the amount received.
The individuals include Najib’s brother Nazir Razak, the former chairman of Malaysia’s second-largest bank, CIMB, and Shahrir Abdul Samad, former chairman of state palm oil agency Felda.
Funds were also distributed to companies, political parties and organizations linked to Najib’s coalition, a list provided by the MACC showed.
A spokeswoman for Nazir did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shahrir declined to comment.
In 2015, Nazir went on a leave of absence after the Wall Street Journal reported that he received around $7 million from Najib and disbursed the funds to other politicians before elections in 2013.
An independent review into the money transfer concluded that Nazir did not misuse his position and there was no inappropriate use of the CIMB’s resources, following which Nazir resumed his duties as chairman. He resigned last year after three decades at the bank.
Nazir had received about 25.7 million ringgits in cheques, Latheefa said. She declined to confirm whether these were the same funds that Nazir had allegedly received in 2013.
After winning last year’s election, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s administration has reopened 1MDB probes, charged dozens of high-ranked officials, and filed civil forfeiture actions in a bid to recover money linked to 1MDB.
Since 2016, the US Department of Justice has filed forfeiture lawsuits on about $1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds, including a private jet, luxury real estate and jewelry.
In May, the United States began returning to Malaysia some $200 million recovered from the sale of seized assets.


S&P downgrades trio of Dubai developers as pandemic hits property and retail

Updated 10 July 2020

S&P downgrades trio of Dubai developers as pandemic hits property and retail

  • Gulf states are being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic that has come at a time of weak oil prices

RIYADH: The credit ratings of three Dubai property companies were downgraded by S&P as the coronavirus pandemic hits confidence in the retail and real estate sectors.
S&P Global Ratings reduced the credit ratings for the real estate developer Emaar Properties as well as Emaar Malls to +BB from -BBB with a negative forward outlook, adding that it sees a “weakening across all its business segments” in 2020. S&P also cut its rating for DIFC Investments to +BB from -BBB, while keeping a stable outlook.
Gulf states are being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic that has come at a time of weak oil prices, heaping pressure on governments, companies and employees.
The ratings agency expects the emirate’s economy to shrink by 11 percent this year
“The supply-demand imbalance in the realty sector appears to have been exacerbated by the pandemic. We now expect to see international demand for Dubai’s property to be subdued, and the fall in residential prices to be steeper than we had expected, lingering well into 2021” S&P reported.
Despite easing restrictions and the opening of the economy, S&P said that overall macroeconomic conditions remained challenging.
Global travel restrictions and social distancing constraints “significantly weigh on Dubai’s tourism and hospitality sectors” the rating agency reported.
Still, Dubai’s tourism chief was upbeat on the emirate’s prospects when international tourism resumes.
“Once we do get to the other side, as we start to talk about next year and later on, we see very much a quick uptick. Because once things normalize, people will go back to travel again,” Helal Al-Marri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing told AFP in an interview.