In uncharted waters, 1MDB’s fourth auditor faces formidable task


Parker who? That was a common reaction on 5 January 2017, when 1MDB revealed its latest auditor – a little known firm – after three Big Four auditors had fallen by the wayside for one reason or another.

Parker Randall was reported to be an “international auditing firm” with its website revealing “independent member firms” in 50 countries around the world.

One of them is a Malaysian firm by the name of Afrizan Tarmili Khairul Azhar, also known as aftaas with its head office in Rampai Business Park in Setapak and offices in Shah Alam, Ipoh, Kuantan, Johor Bahru and Kota Bharu.

aftaas’ website can be found here.  Strangely, the “About Us” website pages on the aftaas website describing “The Firm”, “Parker Randall” and “Team Profile” are all inaccessible. See, for instance, the “Team Profile” profile page.

Not to worry; the same page archived on the internet in August 2014 reveals the Malaysian firm’s  line-up. Here you can see that the firm’s name (Afrizan Tarmili Khairul Azhar) appears to be a combination of three of the partners’ names, with the managing partner listed as Mohd Afrizan Husain.

Full article on Aliran website

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  1. State funds amounting to RM74 million has been traced and found its way to the PM’s account and it has taken investigation agencies the past two years to unravel the scandal and mystery before making a report. Paul Low had the cheek to reply and report in a terse single-paragraph statement that only said ‘MACC has completed its investigations’. This wishy-washy open-ended answer has not addressed a single issue in SRC’s losses and left the issue unattended and has created more questions now than answers. Only an ignoramus person will make such an irresponsible statement in reply to a serious loss of state fund more so when he is a minister in parliament. Paul Low’s integrity stinks and has sunk so low that he failed to gather enough nerve and present his reply in parliament in-person. We do not need a minister just to issue written statements.

  2. Switzerland, which has launched an international fraud, bribery and money laundering investigation into Malaysian sovereign fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), says it is making progress in its probe despite the refusal of the Malaysian government to cooperate.

    Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said on Wednesday (5 April) that his office, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG), has been going through money laundering reports and bank documents with the help of authorities in Singapore, Luxembourg and the US.

    “It’s not hopeless, in fact, it’s the opposite,” Lauber told reporters when presenting his 2016 annual report which outlined the OAG’s activities, including its investigations into bribery linked to Brazil’s oil firm Petrobras, investigations into FIFA, the world soccer body, and tracking terrorist financing.

    However, he admitted that “it would have been very desirable from our perspective if Malaysia had cooperated”.

    The OAG launched its investigation into 1MDB in August 2015 after discovering the Swiss financial services hub was affected by the sovereign fund’s scandal. The probe is “directed against Malaysian officials and officials of the United Arab Emirates, who each held several bank accounts in Switzerland to which funds from a criminal origin allegedly flowed”.

    Source: International Business Times

  3. “1MDB had received RM10.97 billion in cash in 2015 and 2016 through the sale of assets of Edra Global Energy Sdn Bhd, the sale of equity in Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd and sale of land in the Tun Razak Exchange”.

    Gadai national assets to settle debts?

    • The involvement of China state-owned firms in 1MDB-related projects such as buying power assets and taking stakes in property development ventures have raised legitimate fears that some of these may involve quid pro quo arrangements in other deals which may benefit China firms.

      In other words, putting it bluntly, Malaysia may be giving China plum deals in return for help in covering the hole of over RM30 billion in 1MDB.

      More details here:

  4. The Bandar Malaysia and TRX prime land rightfully belong to every Malaysians, who received the short end of the stick after the prime lands were literally sold to 1MDB for a song,a scam conspired by the master thief Jho Low and the few untouchables, who used them as assets to raise Billions in foreign bonds,which fizzles into thin air. Can Johari Abdul Ghani explain to Malaysians why 1MDB latest annual financial account is delayed,what are the foreign assets owned by 1MDB and its present market value and the remaining percentage of Bandar Malaysia and TRX prime lands still owned by 1MDB. Without the the latest financial account of 1MDB,Malaysians are in the dark as to how the company is going to service its Billions of foreign debts and interest.The 1MDB financial scandal is too huge for MO1 to pretend that it can be resolved overtime and only fools will continue to support him, while Johari’s predecessor, YB Husni was smart to step-down as the 2nd Finance Minister.

    • The attempt to sell a 60% stake of Bandar Malaysia for RM7.41 billion to a consortium comprising Iskandar Waterfront Holdings and China Railway Engineering Corporation fell apart as no payment was made.

      What will be the repercussion?

  5. Financial aspects of 1MDB are under investigation in several jurisdictions, including Switzerland and Singapore. But the most important is the ongoing one by the U.S. Justice department. It has already implicated by Najib by description, though not by name.

    The question now is whether a Trump administration will close this investigation down. Perhaps it matters in that context that Najib was one of the few developing nation leaders with whom Trump spoke on the phone soon after his election.

    What certainly matters big time in this context is that the one U.S. company whose embarrassing role in raising $3 billion for 1MBD is now under scrutiny is none other than Goldman Sachs.

    Goldman’s then point man in the region, the high-profile Tm Leissner, had to quit and has been banned from management roles in Singapore because of his 1MDB role.

    The firm is often referred to as “Government Sachs” to reflect the depth with which it regularly penetrates the top levels of U.S. government – no matter who the President at the time happens to be.

    Gary Cohn, now Trump’s Director of the National Economic Council, was then Chief Operating Officer. And the new U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, although no longer at Goldman at the time, is an alum of the firm, working there for seventeen years until 2002.

  6. Najib’s Window Dressing Can’t Hide Malaysia’s Woes

    The embattled premier’s cosmetic measures cannot conceal economic realities in the country.

    The Malaysian economy has been put through the hoops. In spite of reassurances from the country’s beleaguered premier Najib Razak that the current economic turbulence is only a temporary affair caused by offshore factors, the evidence does point to the contrary.

    Najib’s government knows this. It has side-stepped long-held promises to win Malaysia recognition as a developed country by 2020. And it has announced a string of statements and measures designed to either distract from these economic realities or aim to address them.

    One revenue-raising initiative announced was charging Thai vehicles a fee for simply crossing their land border. That move has angered the Thai transport ministry which is now mulling a reciprocal tax.

    Adding insult to injury is the loss of the annual Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix. Tourism and Culture Minister Nazri Aziz announced in November that Malaysia would no longer host the race in Sepang once the current agreement expires in 2018 because it had proven too costly.

    Malaysian taxpayers had shelled out about $10 million a year to host the event since 1999, still a paltry sum when compared with eye-watering losses incurred by the fund One Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

    Much of ASEAN has suffered since the Shanghai stock market crashed in mid-2015, signaling a crunch in commodity prices and in the Chinese economy where growth, according to Beijing’s own numbers, has fallen to about half of what it enjoyed a few years back.

    In Malaysia, export growth has suffered double-digit falls as a result and GDP growth for 2016 is expected to come in at just 4.2 percent, a dreadful number by local standards.

    Jarryd de Hann, an analyst with Future Directions International, argues that a slowing economy, political corruption and social tensions were expected to hinder the government’s goal to become a developed country by 2020, announced 25 years ago by then premier Mahathir Mohamad.

    He noted that in 2009, Najib said Malaysia must sustain economic growth at more than eight percent if it was to reach its fully industrialized target. However, GDP growth rates have fallen short of those expectations, averaging just 5.35 percent between 2010 and 2015.

    The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research has also said the country is increasingly relying on domestic growth, which has its limits given the country’s small size, and that this was also holding back growth.

    Because of this, Malaysia is now aiming to become a fully developed country by 2050 through Najib’s T50 Transformation plan, a replacement for Mahathir’s Vision 2020, announced in last year’s budget when the prime minister also claimed his country was now an upper-middle income country.

    Najib is clinging to power after he suffered a reduced majority and lost the popular vote at elections in 2013, with controversy over 1MDB leading to mass protests and demands for his resignation. “There are concerns that democracy in Malaysia is deteriorating with the government tightening its control over the media following allegations of political corruption,” de Hann wrote.

    Few leaders have faced the barrage of international headlines and allegations of corruption like Najib. But he does seem to have found some reprieve relatively speaking with the new data released from Transparency International – the organization charged with ranking countries by perceptions of corruption.

    In its latest rankings, Malaysia dropped just one place in 2016, to 55th place out of 176 countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) compared with 54th out of 168 countries a year earlier, an impressive performance given the extent of the allegations.

    TI-Malaysia President Akhbar Sata, who holds a Datuk title, said the drop was not significant given the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had been effective in handling high profile cases after a management reshuffle.

    His response beggars belief, as did TI’s Malaysian ranking.

    Authorities in the United States, Switzerland, Singapore, and Hong Kong are also investigating the disappearance of more than $1 billion from 1MDB amid allegations it was stolen from people close to Najib. Reports say as much as $4 billion is missing.

    Even foreign businessmen in Cambodia complain that Malaysian corruption is much worse than what they had experienced while working out of Phnom Penh. They are concerned that TI’s ranking of Cambodia in 156th place on the CPI was out of touch.

    TI’s ranking aside, the bigger issues will continue to haunt the Malaysian economy and importantly act as a deterrent for much-needed foreign investment until they are resolved. In that light, Najib’s latest moves to cut spending and raise revenue should be seen as little more than minor window dressing.

    • Is the AG still saying no new evidence to warrant reopening the 1MDB case ? All you need to do is to contact the Swiss authorities, Singapore and US and you can have all the concrete evidences you want. Mr IGP isn’t it high time for you to call up the “young Malaysian businessman ” and Mr Immigration should’nt you cancel his Malaysian passport. Zahid and Hisham being senior cabinet members are you going to continue to ignore these evidences and betray the trust the rakyat have in you. Redeem yourselves by initiating investigation to bring the culprits to book. Otherwise our country is doomed and future generation will curse you for not doing anything about it.

      • Former MACC Chief Abu Kassim says, “All communities must reject political ideologies (when it comes to fighting corruption)”.

        Sad indeed, wasn’t he the very supreme leader of that very important community which could have saved Malaysia? Resignation, retirement, removed, fired, clipped in the wings, etc. are all collateral damages that comes along with his chosen profession – he threw in the towel…..too easily.

        Any logical thinking Malaysians would have backed him all the way till the ends, if he had postured more courage and determination, but he chose to shy or fade away and “remained quiet”, even after more confirmed collaborating criminal information are proven in courts outside Malaysia.

        A quote from George Patton – “We herd sheep, we drive cattle, we lead people. Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” For a man who knows very much more than the general Malaysian public, this Abu Kassim’s speech at the mosque is meaningless. Fight and die like a loyal soldier is the route and thought he should follow.

  7. The Cabinet would be spitting on its own face if it consents to probe BMF but not 1MDB which is a current and present danger.

    • Those Invoke fellows should have such ceramah in Bahasa Melayu to reach out to the intended audience in the malay heartland.

  8. Why the ministers from MCA, Gerakan, MIC, Sabah and Sarawak component parties of BN also sealed their lips on the 1MDB? This is precisely a searching and literary billion dollar question on the lips of most Malaysians. Are their silence an obvious indication of fear of hurting Najib; thus losing their grip in power? Their “loyalty” to history’s most notorious PM remains top in priority despite the country being labelled as a “global kleptocracy”! Why bother and who cares with scandals, shame, dishonour and humiliation as long as they’re ‘somebody’ in gov’t? That’s BN component parties such as MCA, Gerakan, MIC, etc for you!

  9. Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad has outlined the party’s manifesto for the next general election.

    It includes recovering every penny that has allegedly been ever “stolen” from 1MDB and the government if they win, he said.

    “We will investigate very thoroughly the 1MDB money which has been misappropriated.

  10. Penang-born billionaire Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, had used “Eric Tan” as a proxy name for opening bank accounts as well as corporate entities.

    This was revealed in a Singapore court during the case of Falcon Private Bank branch manager Jens Fred Sturzenegger, according to Channel News Asia.

    On Wednesday, Sturzenegger was sentenced to 28 weeks in jail and fined S$128,000 for failing to comply with anti-money laundering regulations, not highlighting suspicious transactions and providing false information to authorities.

  11. Discontent in Malay heartland may spell trouble for PM Najib
    By Emily Chow

    SUNGKAI, Malaysia The Malaysian plantation district of Sungkai has become an initial – and unlikely – battleground for an election that embattled Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to call this year.

    Sungkai is home to ethnic Malays who work for the national palm plantation operator, Federal Land Development Authority (Felda). Known as “Felda settlers”, they have long been among the beneficiaries of government affirmative action programmes for Malays, who form the majority of the population.

    The Felda settlers have been a rock solid vote bank for Najib’s ruling coalition, even as urban Malays have poured into the opposition camp in recent years, alienated by a series of political scandals.

    Najib’s coalition lost the popular vote in the last general election in 2013, but still won a majority of seats in Malaysia’s gerrymandered constituencies.

    Malaysia’s opposition is hoping the settlers could be the next to defect, which was why opposition lawmaker Rafizi Ramli on Sunday night was in Sungkai, a former mining town that now mainly relies on palm oil and rubber planting.

    The settlers have been angered by Felda’s decision to purchase a 37 percent stake in Indonesian palm oil firm PT Eagle High Plantations (BWPT.JK) for $505 million, more than a 100 percent premium based on its closing share price on Wednesday.


    Eagle High is owned by one of Indonesia’s richest men, Peter Sondakh, who has done a number of deals in Malaysia and is a longtime friend of Najib.

    Najib’s office did not respond to requests for comment about the deal. Sondakh has not publicly commented about the deal in Jakarta.

    Just six months ago, Najib’s United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party secured a sweeping victory in a by-election in this constituency in northern Perak state.

    But on Sunday night, more than 300 people gathered on the lawn of a Sungkai resident under a dank tropical night to hear opposition lawmaker Rafizi Ramli tell the cheering crowd: “We will change our prime minister and our government.”

    “Felda’s debts are growing … and the government will use the settlers money to pay it off,” said Rafizi, a 39-year-old lawmaker from People’s Justice Party (PKR).

    “If we don’t stop this, the debt will be shouldered by our future generations.”

    Felda has said the deal will not impact its existing commitments and programmes to improve the well-being of the settlers. Felda itself is planning a series of roadshows to convince settlers in its plantation areas of the deal’s benefits.


    Felda settlers are the majority voters in at least 54 of the 222 seats in the national parliament, and has helped bring the UMNO-led Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition to power in every election since independence in 1957.

    Even the opposition’s attempt to highlight a multi-billion dollar alleged money-laundering scandal at state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that erupted in 2015 did not resonate with rural voters.

    The Felda issue, however, affects them directly.

    “All this while, UMNO has won the elections because there are 54 parliamentary seats in the Felda (settlers) areas. Now I am sure the sentiment has changed,” said Mazlan Aliman, president of the National Felda Settlers’ Children Society (ANAK).

    He estimates that over half of his association members and their families will vote for the opposition party if the Eagle High deal goes through. “If this happens, (Barisan Nasional) will lose in the upcoming elections,” Mazlan said.

    Najib has to call elections by 2018, but a government source told Reuters he may do it earlier, possibly in the second half of this year.


    The prime minister is heading into the next election already saddled with the scandal around 1MDB, which has been investigated in a half-dozen countries for money laundering. His government said nearly $700 million of 1MDB money that wound up in Najib’s personal bank account came from an unnamed Saudi.

    Yet Najib, who has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing, retains a tight grip on UMNO by commanding a vast patronage system that spreads the largesse among ordinary Malays as well as party apparatchiks.

    He is wielding sticks along with the carrots: Anwar Ibrahim, the charismatic opposition leader, remains in jail on sodomy charges, activists and politicians have been charged with sedition, critical news websites have been closed.

    Rafizi, the lawmaker who spoke at the Sungkai rally, is himself on bail pending an appeal after he was sentenced to 18 months in jail for leaking a confidential 1MDB document.

    But the prime minister is fighting economic headwinds. The ringgit currency has fallen by more than a quarter over the past two years, prices have risen after state subsidies were slashed and a national goods and services (GST) tax launched, and economic growth is expected to slow in 2017.

    All that is being felt in rural Malay heartlands such as Sungkai, and is contributing to the sour faces over the Felda-Eagle High deal.


    Felda, created by Najib’s father and Malaysia’s second prime minister, resettled and employed the rural poor in the palm industry. It helped lead Malaysia to become one of the world’s two largest producers of palm oil, along with Indonesia.

    The settlers leased government land for palm cultivation and many also own shares in Felda Global Ventures (FGV) (FGVH.KL), a unit of Felda that raised over $3 billion in a listing in 2012.

    But Felda’s fortunes have slumped in recent years – its shares fell by over 60 percent since its IPO. The shares plunged another 5 percent on Dec. 23, when the Eagle High deal was announced.

    “This is a waste of money,” said Khalili Kasim, a 64-year-old settler, saying Felda should be providing housing loans, or educational aid instead of putting money into Eagle High.

    “Land owners should be rich, but why are some of us still struggling and living under the poverty line?” Khalili said.

    But the opposition will be fighting an uphill battle to secure the votes of Felda settlers, who have long been loyal UMNO supporters.

    “In the lead-up to the elections, if they (UMNO) can develop measures that can persuade the voters … then they can still mitigate the concerns arising from the purchase of Eagle High,” said Ibrahim Suffian, director of independent opinion polling firm Merdeka Center.

    “But this is not a done deal; it is a developing story.”

    • A Swiss banker was jailed for seven months in Singapore on Wednesday for money laundering and other offences related to a corruption scandal involving neighbouring Malaysia’s state fund 1MDB.

      Jens Fred Sturzenegger, 42, who headed the Singapore branch of Swiss lender Falcon Private Bank, was also fined S$128,000 (US$89,000) after he pleaded guilty at a district court, making him the first foreigner linked to the scandal convicted in Singapore.

      Three Singaporean private bankers from another Swiss lender, BSI, were jailed last year in relation to the affair.

      Among them was Yeo Jiawei, who was sentenced to 30 months in prison for witness tampering and obstructing the 1MDB probe. Other money laundering charges are set for an April trial.

      It was revealed during Yeo’s trial that he worked closely with Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, a family friend of Najib.

      Najib founded the 1MDB fund while Low helped set it up and played a key role in its decisions. Low has also denied wrongdoing.

      State prosecutors said Sturzenegger lied when he told Singapore investigators he did not know it was Low who owned the Falcon bank accounts involved in the suspicious transactions.

      Low had used the alias Eric Tan in his dealings with Falcon, but the prosecutors said Sturzenegger was aware of it and had even met the Malaysian businessman.

      Prosecutors also said that despite having suspicions of “astronomical sums” of more than US$1 billion moving into Low’s accounts at Falcon, Sturzenegger did not file a suspicious transaction report to financial regulators.

      Singapore, a regional financial hub known for its transparency and tough stance on corruption, last year kicked out Falcon Bank and BSI for what regulators called massive lapses in financial controls.

      Both banks were allegedly used to transfer illicit funds.

      The United States and Switzerland have also launched investigations into the 1MDB fund but only Singapore has meted out convictions so far.

      Sturzenegger was initially slapped with 16 charges, including six for allegedly failing to report suspicious transactions totalling US$1.7 billion in March 2013.

      Another 10 charges were for giving false information to Singapore authorities who were investigating the use of the city-state’s banking system as a conduit for the transfer of illicit funds involving 1MDB.

      He pleaded guilty to three charges related to money laundering and three charges of giving false information. The other charges were taken into consideration in the sentencing.

      Sturzenegger’s lawyer told the court in a mitigation plea before the sentencing that his client did not personally profit from the transactions.

      He also said the Swiss banker’s annual salary of S$400,000 (US$278,000) was “extremely modest” compared with that earned by the BSI bankers implicated in the 1MDB case.

      Defence lawyer Tan Hee Joek told reporters after the hearing that his client was “unlikely” to appeal the sentence and that Sturzenegger would start serving the jail time on Wednesday.

      In his sentencing, Judge Ow Yong Tuck Leong said he agreed with the prosecution to impose a deterrent sentence as Sturzenegger had shown “persistent deceitful conduct”.

      But he also acknowledged that Sturzenegger “fully cooperated” with the investigation and was a first-time offender.


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