After WSJ exposé, PKR hauls PM, 1MDB to court for alleged electoral offences

After WSJ’s exposé, PKR has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the prime minister and several others, accusing them of violating election laws on campaign expenses. ― File pic
After WSJ’s exposé, PKR has announced that it has filed a lawsuit against the prime minister and several others, accusing them of violating election laws on campaign expenses. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 ― As a follow-up to the Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) exposé last month on the RM2.6 billion in Datuk Seri Najib Razak's accounts, PKR announced today that it has filed a lawsuit against the prime minister and several others, accusing them of violating election laws on campaign expenses.

According to the party's central executive council member Sivarasa Rasiah, other defendants named in the suit are Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the Election Commission (EC).

He said the suit, filed today, includes Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Nurul Izzah Anwar, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, Chua Tian Chang and Saifuddin Nasution Ismail as plaintiffs.

In a report on July 2, US-based daily WSJ, citing documents from Malaysian investigators currently scrutinising the troubled 1MDB’s financials, claimed that a money trail showed that US$700 million (RM2.6 billion) was moved among government agencies, banks and companies before it ended up in Najib’s accounts, two months before the 13th general election in May 2013.

It was previously alleged that the funds were used for Barisan Nasional's (BN) Election 2013 campaigns but detractors have pointed out that this would be illegal as RM2.6 billion far surpasses the legal limit allowed by Malaysia's election laws.

Last week, Malay Mail Online reported the EC as calling for legislation that requires all political parties to declare their sources of funding to make elections more transparent.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof pointed out that the election agency does not have any investigative powers to find out if election candidates spend more than the limits of RM200,000 for parliamentary seats and RM100,000 for state seats, as they only rely on receipts submitted by the candidates.

Aziz said the EC would report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and to the police if it received complaints with supporting evidence that an election candidate had spent more than what was reported to the EC.

Today, PKR vice-president Nurul said the facts of lawsuit will reveal “all kinds of bribes and corrupt tactics” allegedly used by Barisan Nasional (BN) to win the 13th general election.

She said it was obvious that the RM2.6 billion was 26 times more than what BN was legally allowed to spend in the election under the Election Offences Act 1954.

Under Section 19 of the Act, candidates are permitted to spend no more than RM200,000 when contesting a federal seat and RM100,000 for state constituencies.

“All these while, it is as if the EC turn a blind eye on blatant corruption,” she said.

It is unclear, however, what amount of the RM2.6 billion was actually used during the election.

To support her claim on BN’s tactics, the Lembah Pantai MP cited an incident from the 2010 Sibu by-election in which Najib offered to make a deal with voters.

“I help you, you help me… If Robert Lau becomes the MP on Sunday, on Monday I will ask [for] the cheque to be prepared. Do we have a deal or not? We do! You want the RM5 million, I want Robert Lau to win,” Najib reportedly said then.

But the EC had then insisted that it does not have the power to investigate, she pointed out.

“We are in the opinion that the EC has abetted by stating that they can only take action against a candidate, while others including Cabinet ministers cannot be charged,” she said in a statement.

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