Malaysia's opposition MPs call on central bank to reopen probe into 1MDB

A construction worker talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Feb 3, 2016.
A construction worker talks on the phone in front of a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Feb 3, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

KUALA LUMPUR - A group of opposition lawmakers marched to Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) on Thursday (Aug 3), calling on the central bank to reopen its investigation into state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Some 40 Members of Parliament, led by opposition leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, walked from Parliament at about 9am to BNM to hand over a memorandum for action, the Malay Mail reported.

The lawmakers also included Democratic Action Party (DAP) parliamentary leader and Gelang Patah MP Lim Kit Siang, Bagan MP Lim Guan Eng, and Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) parliamentary whip and Sungai Petani MP Johari Abdul.

BNM Governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim was unable to meet the group to receive the memorandum. But 10 of the opposition MPs met the administrators of the central bank and handed over the document, according to the report.

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The group also handed the bank a copy of the US Department of Justice's (DOJ) civil court filing seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion (S$1.36 billion) in assets. The DOJ claimed the assets were linked to what it described as an "international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated" from 1MDB.

Dr Wan Azizah told reporters that in the memorandum, the lawmakers had demanded that the central bank re-open its investigation on 1MDB.

"BNM has to investigate this proactively and transparently. We will work together on this matter for the people,'' she was quoted as saying.

"BNM has to be neutral and cannot protect any parties. It has to be independent. We as the people support BNM in all their actions," she said.

1MDB was started by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 soon after he became Malaysia's leader. He has been battling allegations that money from 1MDB had been stolen by him and his associates.

Last year, Mr Najib was cleared of any wrongdoing in the scandal by Malaysia's Attorney- General.

The prime minister admitted last week that there were "lapses in governance" in the state fund. But he maintained that government investigations found no wrongdoing, and that 1MDB is undergoing rationalisation to rid itself of its heavy debts.

The central bank said in August last year that its investigations into 1MDB had completed and all necessary actions had been taken against the state fund, The Star reported.

The central bank in April last year fined 1MDB for failure to fully comply with financial regulations. The breaches included 1MDB's repatriation of funds abroad even though the central bank revoked its permission in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

The sum that 1MDB paid the bank was not disclosed.