KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 ― Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad questioned today 1 Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) reason for storing its cash in Singapore instead of bringing it back, and asked if this this meant the firm was involved in money laundering.
According to the former prime minister, the other possible reason why 1MDB claimed it was storing the funds in Singapore was because the US$1.1 billion (RM4 billion) previously invested in Cayman Islands was already gone.
“The question is, was 1MDB with the knowledge of its adviser involved in money laundering, until its money from the Cayman Islands needs to be stored in Singapore?” Dr Mahathir asked in the latest post on his blog.
“Or was the real reason to lie about storing the money in Singapore, is because there is no cash at all stored there, that the US$1 billion is gone?”
Dr Mahathir also warned that the Monetary Authority of Singapore would scrutinise money going in and out of the country for money laundering.
Yesterday, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) confirmed receiving a report from its Singapore counterpart on a complaint lodged by BSI Bank about 1MDB account that the Swiss bank was handling.
But Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz declined to divulge the contents of the report, which former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad previously insisted contained information to show 1MDB lied about having cash in BSI Bank.
Referring to BNM’s refusal, Dr Mahathir said today that covering up 1MDB’s alleged lies over its cash in Singapore would be a crime.
“What is weird and wrong is the refusal of responsible government departments to take action over the claims made and police reports lodged involving 1MDB’s missing cash,” said Dr Mahathir.
On May 21, Putrajaya admitted that the US$1.103 billion redeemed from 1MDB’s Cayman Islands account had been mistakenly described as “cash” instead of just assets by the investment firm.
Explaining the matter, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah confirmed his ministry’s clarification that the redemption, now parked in Singapore’s BSI Bank, is in the form of “units” and not US dollars as previously claimed by 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy.
He said that Putrajaya is also working to repatriate all its assets currently being kept in the bank in question.
The US$1.103 billion is the second tranche of funds in 1MDB’s Cayman Islands foray, which totalled US$2.32 billion.
1MDB, a brainchild of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is currently the subject of investigations by the Auditor General’s Department and Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.