Banker slams 1MDB officials' no-show (The Straits Times)

PM Najib’s brother irked by their absence at hearing

PROMINENT banker Nazir Razak slammed 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) after both its president and former chief executive skipped a scheduled hearing before the bipartisan Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday.

“Your company has triggered a national crisis and you can be too busy to face Parliament? Unacceptable,” Datuk Seri Nazir, who is CIMB group chairman and the Prime Minister’s younger brother, said in a posting on Instagram.

The PAC had summoned 1MDB’s president and group executive director Arul Kanda Kandasamy and former chief executive Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi to appear at its hearing.

Last Friday, it was informed by the Finance Ministry that the duo would not be able to attend as they were away on official business.

The PAC is conducting its own investigation into the troubled state investment agency to find out how the agency had amassed debts of RM42 billion (S$15.6 billion) in just under six years. 1MDB is wholly owned by the Finance Ministry,

Yesterday was not the first time that Mr Nazir had taken aim at 1MDB’s board of directors. About two weeks ago, he said the board should resign over the financial mess.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also Finance Minister and 1MDB’s chief adviser, gave the assurance that the two men would cooperate with the PAC.

“The officials will appear before the PAC, they are not running away,” Datuk Seri Najib said when asked if they would do so.

“They will show up,” he was quoted by Bernama news agency as saying yesterday when he wrapped up a three-day visit to Japan.

Mr Kandasamy said in a statement that he had received the letter to appear before the PAC only last week. PAC chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed told reporters that the notice was sent to the Finance Ministry as early as May 6.

“Contrary to recent press reports and statements by certain individuals, we wish to clarify that it was only on May 21, 2015, that 1MDB received a letter from the Ministry of Finance, appending an invitation sent by the PAC. This invitation, which was addressed to the Ministry of Finance, requested an appearance by the company before the committee on May 26, 2015,” Mr Kandasamy said in the statement.

“Upon receiving this letter, 1MDB responded to the Ministry of Finance on May 21, 2015, the same day the company received the invitation.”

A source who confirmed Mr Kandasamy’s statement said neither the 1MDB chairman nor PAC was at fault. The ministry is to blame, the source said.

The PAC, following parliamentary procedures, could not send the invitation directly to 1MDB but had to do so through the Finance Ministry.

Meanwhile, 1MDB continues to make headlines.

Malaysia’s central bank confirmed it had been informed of an investigation by its Singaporean counterpart regarding 1MDB’s investment that has been parked in a Singapore bank.

Separately, the government admitted that the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) investments in 1MDB presented a “small risk”, despite the national retirement fund insisting that the RM1.7 billion was secure.

Malaysia’s central bank governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz told a press conference yesterday that the central bank had received a report from the Monetary Authority of Singapore on 1MDB’s investment with BSI Bank in Singapore.

“This information will be extended only to enforcement agencies within our jurisdiction… We cannot reveal more than that.”

On Sunday, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad urged the police to investigate Mr Najib for allegedly lying to Parliament about the status of funds held by the debt-laden 1MDB in Singapore.

In March, Mr Najib said in a written reply to opposition MP Tony Pua that the investment 1MDB had redeemed from its offshore account in the Cayman Islands was held in a Singapore bank in the form of cash.

But last week, he clarified that the redemption was not in cash but in assets.

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