Founder of The Sarawak Report blog Clare Rewcastle-Brown released her book on the 1MDB saga yesterday, which contained the bombshell allegation that officials were planning to plunder public funds on an even grander scale than at the state investment firm.
She alleged that they were planning to steal RM40 billion (S$13.3 billion), two times more than the US$4.5 billion (S$6.2 billion) that United States investigators said had been misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad.
Mrs Rewcastle-Brown, the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown, described the planned theft as "potentially even bigger than 1MDB".
In the 528-page book, The Sarawak Report: The Inside Story Of The 1MDB Expose, she recounted how she had been harassed, stalked and blacklisted for waging a campaign to expose corruption in Malaysia from her flat in the UK, on her website Sarawak Report. She also said there were attempts to arrest her.
Mrs Rewcastle-Brown, 58, started writing about this in 2010, and also broadcast on short-wave Radio Free Sarawak. The blog of the Sarawak-born British citizen was blocked in Malaysia by the previous Najib administration. The block was lifted after the Pakatan Harapan alliance won in the May general election.
The book detailed how she obtained what was described as "evidence" from sources such as well-linked Malaysians and Swiss whistleblower Xavier Justo. She said the "evidence" was of the money trails tied to allegations that billions of dollars had been stolen from 1MDB. Funds were alleged to have been transferred to Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, via a long list of international banks linked to 1MDB.
She described the 1MDB scandal as "the world's largest theft" involving billions of dollars, Hollywood celebrities, designer handbags, Monet paintings and yachts.
The public relations company and law firm that represented Mr Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, were contacted yesterday but did not immediately respond.
Lawyers acting for Mr Low had previously tried to block the publication of The Sarawak Report as well as a book titled Billion Dollar Whale, also on the 1MDB scandal, by Bradley Hope and Tom Wright of the Wall Street Journal.
The law firm Schillings had previously dismissed the reporting by the Sarawak Report on Mr Low's involvement in 1MDB as "speculative, unproven and untested allegations".
Mrs Rewcastle-Brown said yesterday that publishers in the UK had declined to publish her book.
"They (the law firm) approached the publishers and effectively tried to intimidate them into withdrawing from the book. I am ready for these sorts of things, I immediately became my own publishing house for these purposes, and we are going ahead with the publication in the United Kingdom," she said.
She said in a speech at the book's launch yesterday: "I hope what is being revealed through this case study on 1MDB, which has provided what is still a rare glimpse into the inner workings of corrupt offshore finance and associated enterprises, will help open decision-makers' eyes and the eyes of ordinary folk to the very real dangers to our liberties that this represents."
She also alleged in her book that two Malaysians who had information linked to the case were murdered.