KUALA LUMPUR, July 23 ― The potential for Putrajaya to use more public funds to bail out debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) is a legitimate public concern, the chief of the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has said.
Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the blame for the state-owned firm's multi-billion ringgit scandal lies squarely on the shoulders of its top executives, directors and the auditors engaged to go through 1MDB's accounts.
“The management, board and the auditors should shoulder a major part of the blame. There were weaknesses in the governance and I wish the auditors had played their part to flag issues earlier for corrective action,” he was quoted as saying by Singapore's Business Times.
“People have a reason to worry that more public money will need to be committed to solve 1MDB's financial situation,” he added.
Nur Jazlan, whose committee is running a 1MDB probe parallel to two others, admitted that it is the “toughest assignment of his career” and one that could cost him his Pulai parliamentary seat.
The Umno MP stressed that the public has been demanding quick results, and at the same time need to be convinced that they can trust in the PAC's final report on the scandal.
“Whatever the outcome, there will probably be equal number of people unhappy with PAC's conclusion. I am preparing myself to lose the next general election, whatever the result,” he said.
Despite the challenges, Nur Jazlan insisted that the PAC is transparent and independent as it does not report to the federal Cabinet, unlike the multi-agency taskforce that was set up to probe claims in a Wall Street Journal report of US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) allegedly misappropriated into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's personal accounts via 1MDB and several other government agencies.
Nur Jazlan said the taskforce is not transparent as it reports to Putrajaya and investigations are done in-house.
“But they do have the resources to conduct forensic audits and have the authority to procure data from their foreign counterparts which the PAC doesn't have,” he said, while noting that the multiple probes are meant to complement each other.
Aside from the PAC and the taskforce, the Auditor-General is also carrying out a separate investigation and recently submitted an interim report on its findings to the parliamentary panel.
The PAC has set aside August 4 and 5 to question 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy and his predecessor, Datuk Shahrul Ibrahim Halmi as part of their investigation.
The committee will also recall 1MDB’s then-auditors Deloitte, KPMG and Ernst & Young along with several other 1MDB executives and directors of the company's subsidiaries for further questioning in September to answer discrepancies raised by the A-G.
The taskforce, meanwhile, has so far nabbed and remanded two people over their alleged links to the 1MDB scandal ― the managing director of Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd and a board member of a construction firm linked to SRC International.
The former, a 54-year-old man, was picked up on Tuesday at The Curve while the latter, a 39-year-old man, was arrested earlier the same day at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2.