A recent report in the Asia Sentinel has confirmed information received by Sarawak Report that the purpose of a trip made earlier this year to Abu Dhabi by the Malaysian Agong (who is also sultan of the convicted ex-PM Najib Razak’s home state of Pahang), together with the Foreign Minister (who is Najib’s own cousin and is married to the Agong’s cousin) and the newly appointed Attorney General of the PN government was to secretly negotiate a resolution to 1MDB’s legal claim against the emirate for no less than $6 billion.
The Agong is known to be a former Sandhurst classmate and longterm friend of the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi who controls the emirate.
The question that now demands an answer therefore is what has been the outcome to this secretive piece of royal diplomacy, given that over a year has passed since the PN backdoor government swiftly moved to suspend the ongoing case in London to make way for this kingly intervention?
The stakes are staggeringly high, in that 1MDB (ie the Malaysian taxpayer) was seeking to reverse a $5.8 billion payment pledged to Abu Dhabi’s sovereign fund IPIC by Najib after a secret arbitration between the two parties that was designed to cover up the scandalous thefts that had taken place on both sides.
It is also an extraordinary and undisclosed aberration of Malaysia’s system of government that such an initiative should have been fronted not by the country’s elected political leaders in a proper and transparent manner but conducted secretly by the constitutional monarch, whose formal position as the head of state includes no such role.
No announcement was even made of the decision to suspend the London litigation until Sarawak Report exposed the fact that it had happened.
That the King boasts a personal relationship with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi who ultimately controls IPIC is far from a recommendation either. To the contrary it raises issues of conflict of interest that potentially prejudice the Agong’s home country of Malaysia which he should be batting 100% in favour of, rather than risking losing value from any settlement that could have been obtained by persevering with the London case which was proving highly embarrassing to Abu Dhabi and Najib.
This litigation, initiated by the PH government after Najib lost GE14, seeks to challenge the secret arbitration agreement forged by the scandal torn ex-PM in 2017 with IPIC/Aabar as part of his attempt to cover up the vast misappropriations from 1MDB, for which he was responsible.
Under that agreement Malaysia is pledged to pay Abu Dhabi a humungous $5.78 billion in return for covering debt repayments which the plundered 1MDB had found itself unable to repay:
“It is supposed to be paid in tranches twice a year up until 2022, so Malaysia has already paid about half the money at a rate of around a billion dollars a year, which is money that should be used by the fund to service the other debts. Given the fraud and complicity, the case brought by 1MDB argues that it is IPIC and Abu Dhabi who owe 1MDB and not the other way around”
is how one insider with knowledge of the situation has explained matters to Sarawak Report.
The London Appeal Court had agreed with 1MDB in 2019 that there were grounds for reviewing the secret arbitration in an open court given the copious evidence of fraud. This opened a promising path towards cancelling Malaysia’s commitment and demanding recompense from Abu Dhabi instead.
IPIC has appealed against that ruling to the UK Supreme Court but the chances were looking slim for the Abu Dhabi side until the newly ensconced Pahang Sultan surprisingly installed a Prime Minister of his own choosing in what has been widely regarded as yet another unprecedented abuse of his role.
‘PM8′ Mahiaddin Yassin heads a minority party faction and depends entirely on the support of the Agong rather than Parliamentary numbers. It is therefore generally acknowledged that he appointed a close friend of the Agong to be the finance minister, the unelected Zafrul Aziz, as part of the deal that secured his own appointment.
There is further ample reason to conclude that Hishamuddin Hussein, whose prominent wife is also related to the Pahang sultan, was likewise appointed to suit the new Agong to whom the PM entirely owes his own position. The Attorney General is also an unelected figure appointed by the same cabal.
So again, Malaysians are entitled to be told what on earth has been secretly going on with these negotiations when so much public money is at stake?
They also have a right to know why figures who have no business to be negotiating on this matter have stepped outside their constitutional role to do so, particularly since both the Agong and Foreign Minister are plainly conflicted by virtue of being related through politics and marriage to the main perpetrator of the 1MDB fraud, namely the convicted former prime minister Najib Razak, and have close ties to the opposing parties in Abu Dhabi?
Surely this cousin and Najib’s longstanding royal patron from his own home state ought to have recused themselves instead?
Malaysians will also be well aware that the major beneficiaries of the entire 1MDB fraud, besides Najib, Jho Low, Rosmah and their family and co-conspirators, were various figures from the Middle East, the most prominent being the senior figures from Abu Dhabi connected to IPIC and the royal leadership of the state.
These included the Chairman of Aabar/CEO of IPIC, Khadem Al Qubaisi who received backhanders of half a billion dollars for facilitating the thefts through the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund.
Abu Dhabi have acknowledged this fact (the money trails have been published by the DOJ investigators from the United States) and ‘KAQ’ has been imprisoned together with his deputy for the crime.
It is also the case that the brother of the Crown Prince, Sheikh Mansour, who was the Chairman of IPIC and KAQ’s boss, received at least $160 million of that stolen backhander towards the purchase for his private super yacht. Topaz.
Mansour as the ultimate boss at IPIC must have signed off on the bogus ‘guarantees’ for the crooked multi-billion dollar loans raised by Goldman Sachs, which now lie at the heart of 1MDB’s lawsuit against IPIC – the lawsuit that the Agong has chosen to suspend in favour of his personal negotiation gambit.
It is therefore crystal clear to see why the royal movers and shakers in Abu Dhabi were more than desperate to keep this whole embarrassing case out of the courts in London and it is easy to deduce that the new Malaysian Agong might sympathise with his valued friend the Crown Prince.
The only way the Agong can demonstrate his intervention was the best thing for Malaysia on the other hand, is by producing a settlement that is as good as or better than the $5.8 billion that was being sought through the London court. So far, he appears to have produced nothing and the entire matter has drifted into abeyance.
Malaysians are entitled at the very least by this stage to a public update on the status of this plainly inappropriate intervention by the Agong, alongside Najib’s relative appointed as Foreign Minister.
By tossing the London case the PN appointed Attorney General has set aside all 1MDB’s bargaining chips. So, what has been achieved in return for such a sacrifice?
Back in March Rosli Dahlan, ‘PM8’s’ personal libel lawyer and 1MDB’s newly appointed legal negotiator, who had accompanied the Agong to Abu Dhabi, told foreign journalists to expect an imminent announcement of a $1 billion settlement to Malaysia from IPIC.
The sum is relative peanuts compared to the numbers missing and the original claim by 1MDB and does not even cover the contested repayments that have already made under Najib’s fraudulent arbitration.
However, two months later not even the retrieval of that promised paltry $1 billion has been announced. Instead, we have learnt only that the Agong of Malaysia was handed 2,000 doses of an unlicensed Covid vaccine being developed by Abu Dhabi as a gift from the Crown Prince, which he duly brought back to Malaysia and shared (contrary to his own government’s rules) amongst his friends and family.
This is not the way Malaysia’s new head of state should behave formally or informally and Malaysia is owed a full statement in answer to the burning questions about what has happened to this process hijacked by the Agong and what is being done to return Malaysia’s billions from Abu Dhabi?