1MDB exposer believes ‘secret deals’ were carried out in Singapore to hide Najib Razak’s alleged loot

Investigative journalist Clare Rewcastle Brown assured that the saga involving the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign wealth fund is far from over. In fact, Singapore and Hong Kong still have parts to play in the millions of dollars allegedly looted by former prime minister Najib Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor.

Rewcastle Brown, who played a major role in the exposé of Malaysian scandal through her site The Sarawak Report, revealed to South China Morning Post on Wednesday that further details on the Singapore connection to 1MDB will soon emerge during investigations. She believes that secret deals were done in Singapore to keep the funds that Najib purloined a secret.

“I think there are still secrets to come out of Singapore on 1MDB, and probably Malaysians will want to prise them out,” she stated at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Hong Kong as part of her promotion tour to promote her new book. Lately, the journalist has been busy publicizing The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story of the 1MDB Expose, where she detailed her experiences about uncovering corruption in Malaysia, including how she was harassed, blacklisted and faced attempts to arrest her throughout the process.

Back in September, she faced some trouble while crossing over to Singapore from Johor Bahru — she was briefly detained by Immigration and Checkpoint Authority officers, who were themselves baffled about why she was blacklisted. “Turns out ‘someone’ put her on the blacklist in 2016…” noted Sarawak Report in a Facebook post. She was cleared to leave after she clarified her involvement in the 1MDB exposé.

The Singapore connection

File photo taken on August 31, 2012 shows Malaysia’s then-Prime Minister Najib Razak looking on as his wife Rosmah Mansor waves the Malaysia national flag during a rally to celebrate the country’s 55th Independence Day.
Photo: Mohd Rasfan / AFP

To be fair, the 1MDB scandal has tendrils reached out around the world, with at least 10 countries involved in the billions of dollars in assets potentially lost through alleged financial irregularities and money laundering. Singapore, however, is the first country to have convicted and jailed errant bankers involved in the ongoing case. Over the past two years, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has even slapped fines on banks such as Credit Suisse and United Overseas Bank for breaching anti-money laundering rules in relation to 1MDB.

The most recent development in the case saw MAS filing a police report against an author of sociopolitical website States Times Review, who stands accused of making “false and malicious” statements in an article.

The article “Lee Hsien Loong becomes 1MDB’s key investigation target” was published on Monday, alleging that Singapore’s prime minister signed several unfair agreements with Najib when the former Malaysian prime minister was still in power.

“Singapore’s law enforcement and regulatory agencies had also been cooperating actively with their counterparts in Malaysia, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the United States of America during the tenure of the previous Malaysian government,” affirmed MAS in response to STR’s article.

“MAS has placed utmost importance on safeguarding its integrity as a financial regulator, and takes seriously any false allegations to the contrary.”

A private aircraft believed to be owned by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho has been sitting in Singapore for over a year. Authorities confirmed that Low’s Bombardier Global 5000 aircraft is indeed parked at Seletar Airport, but no formal request for its return has been received.

The jet is believed to be among the assets acquired from the US$1 billion allegedly misappropriated from state investment firm 1MDB. Low is accused of purchasing the jet for US$35.4 million in 2010 using funds taken from 1MDB, stated the US Department of Justice.

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