September 30, 2020

1MDB already audited, no basis for PAC to start probe, chief says


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nur_jazlan_2401_840_559_100By Opalyn Mok From Malay Mail Online

GEORGE TOWN, Jan 24 ― Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) will not investigate 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) for financial irregularities as the sovereign wealth fund was already given a clean bill of health in its last audit by a reputable accounting firm, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said.

Nur Jazlan, who is PAC chairman, said last night that because the “big name international reputable auditing firm” has already scrutinised 1MDB’s financials, there was no longer any basis for the parliamentary panel to do the same.

“In this case, a reputable auditor firm has already cleared 1MDB so what are we going to use as basis to investigate it?” he said at a forum here last night, in reply to a question on whether the PAC is looking into allegations leveled against 1MDB over its growing debt level and alleged financial controversies.

Last November, Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang reportedly said that there is “no reason” to audit 1MDB as its books were already scrutinised earlier in the year by Deloitte, one of the big four accounting firms.

Deloitte was appointed by 1MDB in December 2013 and was the third accounting firm to audit the fund since its 2009 inception.

Apart from the audit firm having given 1MDB’s books the “okay”, Nur Jazlan also pointed out last night the many allegations made against the fund by DAP’s Tony Pua and PKR’s Rafizi Ramli may not always be accurate.

“Pua and Rafizi’s figures are not correct sometimes,” he told the forum titled “Government Audit: Formality or Accountability?”, which was jointly organised by Penang Institute and the Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4).

He also pointed to how the name of local tycoon Jho Low has been linked to 1MDB through unsubstantiated claims.

Last August, business paper Focus Malaysia ran a special report on1MDB, showing how it was linked to Abu Dhabi in an intricate network of firms, directorships and partnerships with Low at its centre.

In a front-page story on the enigmatic Low, the business weekly sought to chart the link between 1MDB and Jynwel Capital Ltd, the flagship of the mogul believed to be behind South Korean pop sensation Psy’s appearance at the Barisan Nasional (BN) Chinese New Year open house in Penang in 2013.

The report showed Low’s alleged link with an Abu Dhabi-based company, Muabadala Development Corp, which played a part in the set-up of the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA), which was subsequently rebranded as 1MDB in September 2009, to expand its operations to the federal level.

Low’s Jynwel Capital Ltd was said to have done business with Muabadala, the investment arm of the government of Abu Dhabi said to have total assets valued at US$55 billion (RM181 billion), as of 2012.

The links prompted allegations that Low has influence over 1MDB’s direction, which included the controversial RM8 billion investment in the Cayman Islands.

But in a recent interview with Malay Mail Online, 1MDB’s new CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy dismissed the allegations as untrue.

“Unless individuals who make these claims, can back up these claims with even a shred of evidence, I would have to request them to refrain from making such speculative and damaging statements,” he said.

1MDB has been under tremendous opposition scrutiny in recent times with Pua calling on Arul Kanda to explain the state investment fund’s financial controversies to PAC instead of only to him in a private dialogue.

Last week, 1MDB claimed it had redeemed the full sum it had invested in the Cayman Islands, which amounted to US$2.318 billion (RM8.3 billion).

IMAGE: PAC chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan says they are not investigating 1MDB because it’s already been given the all-clear by a reputable auditing firm. ― Picture by K. E. Ooi

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