Following media reports in the United States, Sarawak Report can confirm that this news site handed over extensive data about 1MDB to a joint US investigation team back in March.
It means that the development fund and its prime fixer Jho Low, who holds American citizenship, have been under the scrutiny of US law enforcers for several months, during which time Low has posed as one of the country’s most generous philanthropists sitting on numerous boards, including that of the UN Foundation and National Geographic.
The law enforcement team, which travelled to London to collect the material, included staff from the Department of Justice’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Department and members of the FBI.
Sarawak Report has also provided similar data to the UK authorities and the Swiss authorities in recent days and weeks.
However, we can confirm we have received no such requests from the Malaysian authorities, who have chosen instead to incorrectly accuse Sarawak Report of failing to report the matter to the forces of law and order.
Much of the documentation received by the US and other jurisdictions relates to the 1MDB PetroSaudi joint venture set up in 2009 and it was originally provided by the Swiss national Xavier Justo, who is currently jailed in Thailand owing to denunciations against him by former PetroSaudi colleagues involved in the deal.
These individuals, currently themselves walking free, include the London based PetroSaudi directors Patrick Mahony and Timothy Buckland.
Neither of these men nor Jho Low have attempted to take legal action against Sarawak Report, despite their accusations of fraudulent reporting.
Together with Malaysian officials and UMNO media outlets, PetroSaudi have instead concentrated in recent weeks on their attempts to discredit Justo and their allegations that Sarawak Report ‘tampered’ with the evidence and supposedly ‘doctored’ documents.
Despite the complete lack of evidence behind such allegations, the Malaysian Government has responded by banning Sarawak Report, issuing an arrest warrant and attempting to place its editor on the Interpol Red Notice list.
However, these aggressive tactics have started to unravel just as the Prime Minister has set off on his first international tour since the 1MDB crisis struck his administration.
Yesterday, The Edge newspaper, which also received copies of Justo’s material and reached the same conclusions as Sarawak Report about the missing billions of ringgit siphoned out by Jho Low, was yesterday vindicated by the Malaysian High Court, which ordered the Home Ministry ban on the newspaper should be lifted.
And Najib Razak now finds himself flying into New York amidst widespread reports that he is being investigated over PetroSaudi and also the US$681 million, which Sarawak Report revealed had been paid into his personal account just before the last election.
Najib’s 1MDB dealings with Goldman Sachs are also a major target for US investigators, after the US bank set eyebrows rising over the unusually high rates for money it raised for their Malaysian client.
And in yet a further development, the New York Times has revealed that its journalists have tracked down one of the key witnesses hunted by Malaysia’s Bank Negara to assist in their own investigation into 1MDB’s missing billions.
Jasmine Ai Swan Loo was originally identified by Sarawak Report as a key player in so-called Project Uganda, the operation orchestrated by Jho Low to channel money out of 1MDB and through PetroSaudi in order to buy up Taib Mahmud’s family concern UBG group.
Bank Negara subsequently placed wanted notices to interview her and her colleague at 1MDB Casey Tan, as well as Jho Low’s key lynch pin at UBG, 1MDB and SRC International, Nik Ariff Faisal Aziz – however, all had gone missing from Malaysia.
The New York Times have now tracked down Jasmine to a swanky apartment right under their noses in East 22nd Street, purchased in 2014 for an impressive $4.5 million.
Working at 1MDB has clearly provided rewards for the inner circle of now wanted officials, despite the huge losses of public money sustained by the fund.
Perhaps Najib Razak could assist the remaining 1MDB enquiry by asking the New York cops to pick Jasmine up, so he can bring her back with him to face questioning in Malaysia?
[Sarawak Report remains Malaysia’s only banned website, accused on similar grounds to The Edge of “disseminating false information”. As the judge pointed out in the case of The Edge, no examples have been provided by the Home Minister as to which ‘inaccuracies’ they are referring to as the basis for their ban and we conclude that it is likewise an illegal restriction that has been imposed on our site. Pending any appeal the restriction should therefore be lifted immediately in line with the judgement in Malaysia’s own High Court ruling].