The United States Department of Justice’s (DOJ) latest filing on the 1MDB scandal reminds us once again of the extent of the spread of the cancer of kleptocracy and corruption afflicting the highest rungs of power in the nation.
The latest filing yesterday has revealed the magnitude of the scandal pointing to a whopping US$4.5 billion in ill-gotten gains stolen from 1MDB of which US$1.7 billion in assets is being sought for seizure by the DOJ.
This is fraud committed on a scale that defies belief made more incredible that the main perpetrators are going about their lives with utter impunity. By any basic standards of democracy, any person tainted with such a gargantuan scandal would have been investigated while anyone holding public office would have to be suspended pending resolution of the investigations.
Are we a nation that places trust, integrity and accountability as key requirements for holders of public office or are we a nation that protects corrupt individuals and kleptocrats granting them immunity from investigation and prosecution?
In this regard, it is utter nonsense for the IGP to suggest that this is purely a civil matter. It is well known that the property forfeiture in this case is part and parcel of on-going criminal investigations into violations of U.S. law.
The assets that are sought to be seized by the DOJ are suspected to have been acquired from the proceeds of criminal activities linked to an international conspiracy to launder money stolen from 1MDB.
Even under Malaysian law, forfeiture of property is a very serious process, what more if it involves billions of ringgit of public funds. To suggest otherwise is tantamount to trivialising the Dangerous Drugs (Forfeiture of Property Act 1988) or the Anti Money Laundering Act 2001.
Is the IGP therefore also suggesting that forfeiture of properties under the said laws are purely civil matters and have nothing to do with criminal investigations?
I call on all lawmakers regardless of political affinity, affiliation or party to make a concerted stand on this latest expose guided by the oath of office as Members of Parliament and demand that the kleptocrats, whoever and wherever they are, be brought to justice.
Our duty is to fulfil the trust of the rakyat and not to betray it. Our duty is to serve the nation and protect its wealth, not to plunder it or allow others to do so with impunity.
DATO’ SERI MOHAMED AZMIN ALI