A second head has rolled at the very top of Abu Dhabi’s Aabar sovereign wealth fund, giving yet another strong signal that there are major concerns in the Gulf state over being drawn into Malaysia’s escalating financial and political scandals.
A low key announcement has been released over the past few hours to confirm that the Mohamed al Husseiny, Chief Executive Officer of Aabar, a subsidiary of International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) will be replaced, active from August 24th i.e. next Monday.
According to the Gulf Business Times no reason has been given for the sudden departure. However, the fund claimed in its announcement that the decision was “part of Aabar’s succession plans”.
Reuters has also quoted a source to say that al Husseiny will be moving to join a private equity firm.
Observers of recent developments can hardly fail to conclude that this second sudden departure, following so soon after that of the former Chairman, Khadem al Qubassi (Husseiny was his right hand man) is linked to the unravelling scandal of 1MDB.
Sarawak Report has repeatedly pointed out the pivotal role of Aabar in several of 1MDB’s most questionable investment deals over the past few years. Moreover, we have highlighted several instances of apparent conflict of interest with respect to the former Chairman al Qubasi and CEO al Husseiny.
Specifically, we have noted that 1MDB’s three bond issues totalling USD$6.5 billion, involving Aabar and negotiated by Goldman Sachs, contained several irregularities, which created huge and unnecessary expenses for Malaysia.
Lack of transparency has meant that it has been extremely hard to determine why these bonds were managed in such a costly fashion and why Aabar was included as joint guarantors of the money at all – issues which have also been repeatedly raised by several members of the opposition and by the former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir and others.
The former Chairman of Aabar, Khadem al Qubaisi, was meanwhile involved in numerous separate business ventures linked to Prime Minister Najib Razak’s proxy at 1MDB, the businessman Jho Low, including the purchase of Coastal Energy by CEPSA and a bid to buy the London Claridge’s Hotel chain.
Al Qubaisi was sacked shortly after Sarawak Report published extensive evidence of his extravagant ‘alter ego’, which included partying with Jho Low in some of the world’s most expensive nightclubs.
We also published evidence showing that Jho Low’s company Good Star had paid an unexplained sum of US$20 million into a personal account belonging to Al Qubassi at the Luxembourg private Edmund de Rothschild bank.
Good Star was the company that siphoned a total of US$1.19 billion out of 1MDB PetroSaudi joint venture in 2009.
Sarawak Report has also highlighted similar irregularities on the part of al Husseiny, who was generally regarded to have been al Qubasi’s right hand man.
Last year, al Husseiny controversially announced that it was he who had personally financed The Wolf of Wall Street on behalf of Najib Razak’s producer step-son Riza Aziz to the tune of US$100 million.
Sarawak Report pointed the obvious conflict of interest, given Aabar’s advantageous investments with 1MDB.
More recently we reported that al Husseiny was also the Chairman of the Board of Aabar-owned Falcon Private Bank, which had coincidentally paid US$681 million into the Prime Minister’s personal account just two days after the conclusion of a US$3 billion dollar bond issue by 1MDB, purportedly linked to another joint ‘strategic partnership’ venture with Aabar to develop the Tun Razak Exchange in KL.
No reports over suspicious transactions appear to have been made about the transfer of such an enormous sum by Falcon to a politically connected person and to date no information has been forthcoming from any party as to the actual source of the so-called ‘donation’ to the Prime Minister through the Aabar Bank.
Yet, despite the growing scandals and the recent sacking of al Qubasi, Aabar stepped in last June to rescue 1MDB from a series of huge debt defaults on its exposure of RM42 billion.
The Malaysian development fund was retrieved from bankruptsy by a massive injection of a US$1 billion cash payment on June 10th in order to meet debt repayments due that week, plus a commitment by Aabar to carry the fund’s future repayment demands for the next 12 months, in return for the promise of undisclosed assets to be provided by June 2016.
The Malaysian Prime Minister cum Finance Minister cum head of 1MDB has so far refused to disclose what those assets might be, but it is widely assumed they include land transferred by the state to 1MDB, supposedly to be developed by the fund.
All these shady deals have played their part in escalating the current furore around the shocking indebtedness of 1MDB and the resulting weakening of Malaysia’s economy.
Meanwhile, the scandal over the billions that have apparently gone missing thanks to these deals and the unexplained hundreds of millions that have appeared in the Prime Minister’s personal accounts have brought the country into an unprecedented political crisis.
The sacking of al-Husseiny is the clearest possible sign that Abu Dhabi wants to clean up their side of this scandal. However, Malaysia’s own leadership has persisted in maintaining that the Prime Minister has nothing to answer for.