Malaysian authorities free to take action on Pandora Papers allegations, says PM Ismail

Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government will not interfere or stop the authorities from pursuing any case based on the information in the papers.
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government will not interfere or stop the authorities from pursuing any case based on the information in the papers.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the enforcement authorities are free to take action based on the allegations made in the Pandora Papers leaks, a secret trove of documents about the offshore finance of world leaders.

Datuk Seri Ismail said on Saturday (Oct 16) that the government will not interfere or stop the authorities from pursuing any case based on the information in the papers.

"We are an open country. If anyone has a case against them, the authorities are free to take action," he said.

He added that the authorities can read everything revealed in the papers, saying that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission can read what has been reported.

"So we leave it to the authorities and we will not prevent them from taking action," said Mr Ismail.

Mr Ismail, however, added that there needs to be evidence before action can be taken against those implicated.

"There has to be proof before taking action. If not, then you can't," he said.

Malaysian police said on Saturday that it has opened two investigations over the Pandora Papers.

Criminal Investigation Department director Commissioner Abd Jalil Hassan said the police has received four police reports on the matter so far.

Earlier this month, dozens of influential Asians, including ruling party politicians, were among thousands of people around the world linked to offshore companies or trusts in the latest leak of confidential financial information, dubbed the Pandora Papers.

The nearly three-terabyte data dump by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is the network's largest so far, even compared with 2016's Panama Papers, and more than double the size of 2017's Paradise Papers.

About a dozen prominent Malaysians were among those named in the 12 million files making up the Pandora Papers.

Among them were former finance minister Daim Zainuddin and his family members, of which two of his sons were alleged shareholders of British Virgin Islands companies with assets of £10 million (S$18.5 million at current value) in 2007 and £12 million in 2017.

Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was also named as a director in a 1996 BVI company called Breedon.

Most of those named in the papers have denied that what they did was legally wrong.