First suBmariNes, now BaNknotes.

BN politicians and cronies have been on a national and international corruption spree for decades.

So it’s nice to see signs that, despite current Prime Minister Najib Razak’s expensive efforts to portray himself and his accomplices as worthy world citizens, the international community is finally waking up to BN’s monstrous misgovernment of Malaysia.

The first ray of hope came from France, where an investigation has begun into the payment of illegal kickbacks to close associates of Najib, if not the man himself, on the sale to Malaysia by a French arms company of two Scorpene submarines.

A scandal that for years has been so rife with allegations of sex involving a subsequently murdered Mongolian translator, Altantuya Shaariibuu, that I can’t help thinking of it as not so much the Scorpene as the Scorpenis affair.

Najib, who was the defence minister at the time, has denied any involvement in the affair, and indeed gone so far as to solemnly swear on the Quran that he never met Altantuya, let alone had a relationship with her.

A close Najib aide, Abdul Razak Baginda, who did admit having an affair with the murdered woman, and was charged as an accessory to her killing, was later somewhat dubiously declared by a court to have no charge to answer, and summarily released.

The only convicted culprits or at least scapegoats so far have been two relatively junior members of Najib’s force of bodyguards, who are currently appealing their death sentence for abducting Altantuya from outside Razak Baginda’s house, killing her and the unborn child she was carrying, then disposing of the remains by blowing them up with C4 military explosive.

So many questions remain about the Scorpenis affair, notably how records of Altantuya’s entry to Malaysia were ‘mysteriously’ erased from immigration records, and why Najib was never obliged to appear as a witness in the murder trial, that the French investigation of the financial aspects of this atrocity are as welcome as they are long overdue.

Also extremely welcome is the forthcoming culmination of the two-year investigation by the Australian Federal Police into another case involving alleged kickbacks to Malaysian as well as Indonesian, Vietnamese, Nepalese and Nigerian government officials and cronies by the banknote-production companies, Securency and Note Printing Australia.

As an Australian citizen I’m especially chuffed by this, as there has been a mysterious failure to bring criminal charges in a previous Australian overseas bribery scandal.

Back in the days of Saddam Hussein, a number of high-ranking executives of the Australian Wheat Board were accused of illegally paying the Saddam regime hundreds of millions of dollars in the same ‘oil-for-food’ scandal in which family members of former Malaysia PM Abdullah Ahmad Badawi were also suspected of involvement.

However, though all AWB executives named in the allegations have since retired, resigned or been fired, none have ever been brought to court, and thus it is a glad day for justice that those of Securency and Note Printing Australia appear destined to be.

In a breakthrough for the investigation of corrupt payments by executives of these companies – both subsidiaries of the Australian Reserve Bank – the former chief financial officer of Securency, David Ellery, has agreed to plead guilty to two charges of bribery-related false accounting and to give evidence against several of his co-accused former colleagues in a trial due to commence next year.

Meanwhile, as the Sydney Morning Herald has reported yesterday, the Indonesian middle-man in the Securency scandal, Radius Christiano, is free on bail in Singapore pending extradition proceedings by the Australian Federal Police.

And in the UK, the Serious Fraud Office has arrested several former Securency executive and agents.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC} charged two individuals with taking bribes from Securency- “arms broker” Abdul Kayum Syed Ahmad and former Malaysian central bank assistant governor Mohamad Daud Dol Moin – last July.

Abdul Kayum has previously been identified as a sometime official of the BN regime’s dominant Umno party.

Another person of interest who has been named is Kedah state member of parliament and former Umno branch treasurer Abdullah Hasnan Kamaruddin, who was appointed as an ‘agent’ of Securency.

The Sydney Morning Herald and its sister newspaper the Melbourne Age have also previously revealed that in 2009 Securency signed an agency agreement with KL-based company Liberal Technology, of which the biggest individual shareholder was Haris Onn Hussein, brother of Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein and a cousin of PM Najib.

However, Liberal Technology has denied any wrongdoing and clarified that Haris Onn sold his entire stake in the company in 2006 – three years before the deal was inked.

Though no banknote deal was actually done through Liberal Technology, the company has prospered mightily from a 2006 decree by the Malaysian Finance Ministry obliging all tobacco and alcohol marketers in Malaysia to buy its security labels in order to legally sell their products.

And Haris Onn is also closely linked with a company that has been handed a 34-year concession to collect tolls on a Malaysian highway.

I recall, as perhaps you also do, that back when this story broke in Malaysia’s alternative media, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein typically brushed it aside and denied any knowledge of his brother’s business dealings.

But even if, the rest of Malaysia’s BN government and the always tame and toothless MACC see nothing amiss in these apparently nepotistic if not outright corrupt dealings, perhaps the forthcoming Securency trial, like the French Scorpenis investigation, will open the eyes of the world at least a little more to the corruption and outright criminality of this rotten, repressive and altogether revolting regime.

 

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