1MDB saga should never be allowed to happen again, says PM Najib's brother Nazir Razak

CIMB group chairman Datuk Sri Nazir Razak.
CIMB group chairman Datuk Sri Nazir Razak. PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (The Star/Asia News Network) - Those responsible for what happened at state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) should be held accountable, said Prime Minister Nazib Tun Razak's brother Nazir, who is a leading banker.

"The future is about making sure that 1MDB never happens again," said CIMB group chairman Nazir.

"We have to look at the past and understand what happened so that we learn the lesson, so that people responsible for it are held accountable, so that nobody dares to do it again and that is a process that is still at work," he told the audience during a question and answer session at the third Star Power Talks: Business Series at Menara Star on Saturday (March 26).

"In terms of the magnitude of the wrong, what went wrong and who did wrong - that's the job of the Auditor-General, the PAC (Public Accounts Committee) and that is still work in progress," said Nazir, Najib's youngest brother.

"It's important that we learn lessons from the past so that there isn't this moral hazard that people think they can do anything and get away with this because that would be very damaging to the country,"

Something went wrong in 1MDB, added Nazir, and no one could deny it.

Najib, 63, is embroiled in a scandal surrounding 1MDB, which has racked up debts of US$11 billion (S$15.09 billion) since he established it soon after taking power in 2009.

1MDB's transactions are under investigation in Switzerland and Singapore.

Najib's denial of any wrongdoing has failed to dispel suspicions of mismanagement and corruption, which led to a mass protest in Kuala Lumpur in August and more recently moves to bring a confidence vote in parliament.

An interim report from the Attorney-General's Office last year did not find any suspicious activity. The Attorney-General dismissed the central bank's request to start criminal proceedings against the company.

The final audit report was submitted earlier this month to the parliamentary PAC.

The brothers' father, Abdul Razak Hussein, was Malaysia's second prime minister, earning a reputation for frugality and integrity as he led the new country in the austere post-colonial years.

Nazir has made no secret of his disquiet over the fallout from 1MDB, whose advisory board is chaired by Najib.

In 2009, he said on Saturday, he had already spoken up and related the case to various people that "needed to know" that something was not right with 1MDB.

He said the government-owned company's total debt was way out of range of its capital base.

"The transactions of the RM5 billion (S$1.7 billion) bond it issued in 2009 was also not properly priced and was handled in a very unusual manner.

"It also lacks transparency in its deals.

"There's also a concern because the auditors kept changing and its accounts continue to be delayed," he said, adding that there was an issue in terms of governance as the accounts covered only until March 2014.