Paper asked to show cause over 1MDB

Men walk past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur.
Men walk past a 1MDB billboard in Kuala Lumpur.PHOTO: REUTERS

PETALING JAYA • Malaysia's Home Ministry has issued a show-cause letter to media group The Edge over its reports on state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) which were based on data from a whistleblower which the government said had been tampered with.

A ministry official told The Star that The Edge was issued with the letter on Monday evening.

The move followed comments last week by Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that The Edge Media group owner Tong Kooi Ong should be held responsible for "inaccurate reports" on 1MDB.

"The Edge and its owner Tong Kooi Ong must be held responsible for publishing inaccurate reports and false information. The Edge should have verified the facts before publishing the articles," said Datuk Seri Zahid last Wednesday.

The group publishes a financial daily and a weekly, which had been carrying detailed reports on the 1MDB issue. It also owns The Malaysian Insider online news portal that is often seen to be critical of government policy.

1MDB, a state investor wholly owned by Malaysia's Finance Ministry, is under the microscope as it piled up huge debts to buy 13 power plants in six countries and pieces of land.

It racked up debts of RM42 billion (S$15 billion) for the year ended March last year. 1MDB's board of advisers is led by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah told The Straits Times on Monday that 1MDB has erased over a third of its debts from its books, in a deal involving Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company and assets owned by 1MDB.

The alleged tampering of data given to the Sarawak Report blog and to The Edge were uncovered when Thai police recently arrested Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo, a former executive with PetroSaudi International, for trying to blackmail his former company.

Malaysian officials claimed Justo released tampered PetroSaudi data to the media.

PetroSaudi was an early project partner of 1MDB.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2015, with the headline 'Paper asked to show cause over 1MDB'. Print Edition | Subscribe