Last week a complaint attributed to the anti-corruption authorities in Kuwait was filtered into the country’s largest newspaper, but went almost unremarked in Malaysia.
Sources in the Kuwaiti prosecutor’s office, according to Al Qabas, have been left dismayed and mystified by the failure of the Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers to respond to mutual assistance requests regarding around a billion dollars of Malaysian public money frozen on grounds of suspected money laundering.
“An informed source [said] that the Public Prosecution conducted its investigations with the accused and completed this matter, and sent a letter to external parties asking them to inquire whether or not there were suspicious or looted funds from those countries.
So far, no response has been received, and the matter will remain pending until an answer is received from those countries, specifically (Malaysia), because all investigations will depend on the source of the complainant, otherwise the report will be preserved ….” [translated from Al Qabas June 14th]
As a result of this failure on Malaysia’s part, the paper says, the case has remained pending and the money frozen.
The cash was seized almost a year ago following exposes by Sarawak Report (later mirrored in major global media and throughout Kuwait’s own media) revealing how the money in question appeared to have been funnelled out of Malaysia using, amongst other devices, a couple of bogus Chinese pipe line contracts, all orchestrated by Jho Low and his boss Najib Razak, prime minister at the time.
The frontman in Kuwait and the owner of the relevant companies and accounts was allegedly the royal son of the former prime minister of that country, Sheikh Sabah, who is now on bail having been charged with apparently collaborating with Jho Low to process several huge sums that went through his various Kuwaiti and off-shore companies at the time.
Incidentally, Sheikh Sabah’s own father is now himself being held in custody pending the investigation of separate corruption allegations. This firm treatment is in stark contrast, of course, to that of Najib Razak who has continued to walk free and keep his political seat in Malaysia, despite having been convicted of his crimes.
The circumstances of this apparent refusal by the PN government to engage with the Kuwaiti authorities to secure the potential return of billions of ringgit of public money are bitterly familiar to the Malaysian public.
For years, former AG Apandi blanked numerous foreign assistance requests from countries across the world who had been caught up in and started investigating 1MDB whilst Najib remained prime minister. The reason, of course, was cover-up to protect the powerful.
When the PH coalition government was voted into office that attitude changed and the authorities readily cooperated with foreign entities offering to return the stolen cash. Malaysia during this period also reached out to Kuwait to gain assistance regarding these huge sums of money that had indeed appeared to pass through the hands of Sheikh Sabah.
Ironically, and indeed for Malaysians unfortunately, during that period of 2018/19 the relevant wing of the Sabah family still waged considerable control in Kuwait. Therefore those enquiries were not met with cooperation at that time. By the time Kuwait had started to tackle the problem of the apparent multiple corruption issues related to the former prime minister and his son, PN had taken over in Malaysia!
So, now it would seem the tables have turned. Once again, according to the Al Qabas article last week quoting anonymous official sources, Malaysia has been ignoring requests for assistance that might enable Kuwait to confirm that further billions of ringgit were stolen from the country by Jho Low (and Najib) so that they can return it and also successfully bring those responsible in Kuwait to book.
Why? The reasons for the renewed coy attitude of the AG Chambers are not hard to divine.
Despite the early trumpeting of their ‘anti-corruption credentials’ the PN government is rapidly going soft anyway on those identified as major grafters from the previous BN regime, which so many from the present backdoor coup coalition were of course part of.
Just this week an appalling crony from the worst excesses of the Rosmah/Najib government, former Tabung Haji boss Abdul Azeez (currently being prosecuted on numerous counts of corruption and the money laundering of millions), was dignified with the role of leading an humanitarian mission to Palestine – he is after all still an MP whilst he tenaciously appeals his charges and therefore possesses a vital vote.
Najib himself likewise continues successfully to delay his appeals over his conviction and further trials, whilst his cousin has made a blatant play to hijack the hijack government over the past several days.
Indeed, the large number of disgraced individuals who remain MPs in the Malaysian government, rather than being rejected by their parties and ejected from office, must be a world beating phenomenon under PN.
However, the attitude of the present minority administration in Malaysia towards various Gulf royals who appear to have assisted and participated in Najib’s thefts is particularly telling.
Much self-congratulation has accompanied actions against others, including Goldman Sachs (who in fact got off very lightly in return for a quick cash settlement with PN).
However, every move possible appears to have been made to thwart the recovery of billions and billions of ringgit that were stolen by Abu Dhabi, Saudi and now it also appears Kuwaiti actors.
The case in London that was set to extract a well-deserved $6 billion from IPIC, given the direct thefts of money by its top officials and indeed its royal chairman, Sheikh Mansour, was abruptly suspended shortly after the newly appointed Agong posed with Mansour’s brother, the Crown Prince, at his coronation.
The insider lawyer on the case, Rosli Dahlan, has only just returned from London, where he was said to be settling some final details on a ‘negotiated settlement’ that so far no one else has heard slightest details about. Covid demands so many things to be removed from public accountability after all.
And now it appears certain royals of Kuwait are getting a similar pass, despite having been held up by their own forces of law and order: as indeed were Najib’s Saudi collaborators, also arraigned by their own government (Prince Turki remains in a Riyadh jail by all accounts).
That Jho Low and his entourage were closely involved in the money that circulated through Kuwait that is believed to have originated from thefts of Malaysian money is hugely evidenced by copious material, much of which has been brought to light by Sarawak Report over recent months.
Indeed, Sarawak Report has just received further compelling evidence of the close ties between Jho Low and his alleged Kuwaiti front man and money laundering collaborator, Sabah Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah (Sheikh Sabah), including pictures that illustrate the entire relationship that has been laid out in the charges against him and his alleged team of helpers.
Sarawak Report has established that Jho Low made his connection with Sheikh Sabah through a longstanding contact of his, the Kuwaiti national, Hamad Al Wazzan, who had forged links with a business partner of Sheikh Sabah, Bachar Kiwan.
Jho Low was originally invited to purchase an interest in a Comoros Bank owned by Sabah, which Jho Low hoped could assisted in moving money through the international finance system (the authorities later cracked down on the deal and froze Jho’s deposit which were proceeds from the fire-sale of a Monet painting bought with 1MDB cash according to FBI/DOJ investigations).
A similar proposal was worked upon to purchase a bank in Cyprus shortly afterwards, again involving the same team with Sheikh Sabah as the front man and Jho Low supplying the money, according to documents passed to Sarawak Report and also information from Cypriot sources.
Low went on almost immediately to entice the Kuwaitis with offers of massive foreign investment from China, purportedly through an $8 billion initiative by the Silk Road and Belt Fund to be handled by the Sabah family, which culminated in a visit to Kuwait by the top executive of the major Chinese state initiative in June 2016 at the height of the 1MDB scandal.
Both Sheikh Sabah and Jho Low’s key contact in the state, Hamad Al Wazzan, were photographed making ceremonial agreements to pursue future joint investments.
The Chief Executive of the Chinese state controlled Silk Road Finance Corporation sealed the agreement and posed with Sheikh Sabah and Hamad Al Wazzan at the launch of the investment strategy which was outlined in an ambitious document to promote the initiative.
That initiative never bore fruit. However, it led seamlessly into the execution of a piece of business, involving much sleight of hand, that was extremely important to Jho Low in June of 2016 as the Najib proxy and financial fugitive was desperately trying to liquidate his stolen assets and move money from his new base in Shanghai. This was the sale of the New York Plaza Hotel into new Chinese ownership.
According to multiple informants, Jho Low hired a private jet to fly his group of business partners from Kuwait to Shanghai, purportedly to reciprocate the ceremonies around the launching of the Kuwaiti investment project. The travellers included the Sheikh Sabah, Hamad Al Wazzan and a board member of Bachar Kiwan’s own company, Al Waseet in which the Sheikh was a partner.
However it soon emerged that a key purpose of the visit was to use the Sheikh and exploit Al Waseet into fronting the purchase of his share of the New York Park Lane Hotel from Jho Low in order to immediately re-sell it on to China’s Greenland Property Group, all on the one day.
The transfers protected Greenland from the perception of having bought the hotel shares from the notorious financial fugitive but exposed the Kuwaitis involved to charges of money laundering that are now being investigated by their home country, their finances having been frozen.
The US DOJ nonetheless eventually confiscated the hotel asset on the basis that it was indeed the product of money laundering from 1MDB. Meanwhile, Sarawak Report has photographs not only of the official dinner between Jho Low and Sheikh Sabah (above) at that occasion but also of a hedonistic party that apparently took place that night after the deal was done.
Jho Low and his fellow revellers are seen dancing shirtless amongst empty glasses and surrounded by scantily clothed women.
Hamad Al Wazzan denies he was aware of Jho Low’s purpose behind the trip or that it was Jho Low who organised the flight and celebrations. What is clear however is that the associations and connections between this group of Kuwaitis and Jho Low were extensive and far ranging at this time. Sarawak Report has already reported how they later developed into what is suspected to be a major money laundering operation by Jho Low on behalf of Najib as part of the 1MDB cover up.
Firstly, we have demonstrated how billions of ringgit raised by Najib to build pipelines in Malaysia were in fact funnelled through the Chinese construction company CCCC and the Sheikh’s bank accounts in Kuwait and the Seychelles back to 1MDB to repay his secret debt agreements with IPIC in Abu Dhabi in 2017.
The previous October 2016 Sheikh Sabah had also set up a separate company in Kuwait, Al Mouniratyen International General Trading of whose bank account Hamad Al Wazzan was also a signatory.
Investigations by Kuwait’s own money laundering authorities which have been sighted by Sarawak Report confirm that much of the cash that entered this company was likewise traceable back to Chinese contractors linked to Malaysia’s pipe line and other contracts.
Over a billion dollars suddenly poured into the Al Mouniratyen account on the excuse of supply contracts suddenly being handled by the Sheikh.
Hamad Al Wazzan denies he knew the money’s origin and has told Sarawak Report that he had by then taken up a research position with the Sheikh that had nothing to do with his earlier business links and enterprises with the Sheikh involving Jho Low. It was for this investment advice that he was receiving substantial payments from the Sheikh, he has told Sarawak Report, not for managing money entering the Shekh’s accounts from Jho Low.
Bachar Kiwan had by this time severed his connections with Sheikh Sabah following business disagreements. The Sheikh then brought a slew of civil and criminal suites against his former business partner.
Meanwhile, according to Kuwaiti official investigators a staggering US$4.8 billion dollars was to be transacted through the Al Mouniratyen ICBC bank account in Kuwait, much of it on round tripping exercises, despite there being no apparent business activity for the company or indeed staff to generate such amounts:
This is the matter that Kuwait prosecutors are presently investigating, having frozen the money on the suspicion that it was stolen money from Malaysia. The prosecutors reached out to their Malaysian counterparts for mutual assistance on the investigation following the arrests of Sheikh Sabah, his lawyer and his research associate, Hamad Al Wazzan, last year. The potential is for billions of ringgit to be returned.
So why is this Malaysian government failing to respond or take the action necessary to repatriate the cash being offered by a friendly nation? The answer would appear to be to do with friendly personal ties between persons of influence in this present Malaysian government and their royal contacts and friends in the Gulf.
If so, it has nothing to do with the benefit of the Malaysian people and everything to do with mutual back-scratching between corrupted entities who appear to think they are entitled to run their modern countries like feudal kingdoms.