KUALA LUMPUR, July 18 — Adamant she did not forge documents for Sarawak Report’s (SR) exposés on 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), website founder Clare Rewcastle-Brown said it was embarrassing that her Umno critics had so easily believed the unverified news.
The London-based SR editor claimed that Lester Melanyi, the former Sarawak Tribune editor who accused her of forgery, is not a credible source, labelling him a “known liar and debtor” in Kuching.
“What Lester should be confessing to is telling a pack of inconsistent and easily disproven lies for what I hope was at least a good sum of money from that silly NGO,” she told Malay Mail Online in an email interview, referring to the non-governmental organisation that had alerted the police on Lester’s allegations against SR.
“It is most disgraceful and embarrassing for them that ministers and an official from Umno should be leaping on this nonsense as if it were truth without the slightest attempt to check out Lester (who is a known liar and debtor round Kuching) or to substantiate his statements,” she added.
Lester had on Thursday admitted to Malay Mail Online that he was paid to expose a convoluted conspiracy involving Malaysia’s opposition, SR and its UK-based founder Rewcastle-Brown in their alleged plot to unseat Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak through so-called doctored leaks of documents on 1MDB.
The allegations first surfaced when Umno minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan told a news conference on Wednesday that he had evidence that SR and its editors had fabricated the alleged document leaks in an attempt to discredit Najib.
According to the minister, who is a Sabah Umno lawmaker and Barisan Nasional’s (BN) strategic communications director, a video confession provided in a report to the police proved this.
Hours after the press conference, a video featuring Lester’s stunning allegations against SR was uploaded on YouTube.
Yesterday, despite acknowledging reports that Lester had been paid to expose SR, Abdul Rahman said the former journalist’s claims still deserves scrutiny.
Rewcastle-Brown insisted, however, that Lester’s allegations were untrue, including his claim that he had worked for her website, although she admitted to paying him a “few ringgit” once for helping provide an unrelated story.
She also alleged that he was using his association with the website for profit.
“However, I was aware that he had been going round Kuching claiming he had written for SR and that he had had a senior role.
“So, I was wary of Lester to put it mildly, but on email terms,” she told Malay Mail Online.
Rewcastle-Brown also insisted that Lester’s claims that she has been colluding with the opposition in a plot to unseat Najib were untrue, and pointed out that despite the forgery allegations, no one involved in the 1MDB controversy has directly countered any of SR’s exposes.
“If I had made it all up it would have been easy to disprove... in the same way that I immediately showed the real email reply I sent to Lester.
“Billions have gone — this is not a fiction, it’s real,” she said.
In an exclusive interview in Sarawak with Malay Mail Online Thursday, Lester had disclosed that he had tried in the past to alert some BN politicians on SR’s alleged attempt to tarnish their leader but was only entertained by one Ramesh Rao Krishnan Naidu who had introduced himself as a special officer to Najib.
However, sources from the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed with Malay Mail Online yesterday that there is no special officer by the name of Ramesh Rao Krishnan Naidu.
According to reports, Ramesh Rao is the president of NGO Pertubuhan Minda and Social Prihatin and is the person who lodged a report and handed Lester’s video confession to the police.
A special task force is currently investigating claims reported in US business paper the Wall Street Journal that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) from state-owned 1MDB was channelled to Najib’s personal bank accounts.