Sarawak Report now has comprehensive figures, showing exactly how Prime Minister Najib Razak distributed the money he stole from the 1MDB Development Fund during the period of the last 2013 election.
Apart from tens of millions spent on luxury goods, jewellery shops, motor-car retailers and the odd handout to family members, associates and consultants, the majority of the spending went on UMNO and its political allies.
The handouts total over RM600 million, which Najib himself dished over in a series of more than 130 cheques signed out of the accounts into which he had been ploughing 1MDB money since 2011. The majority of these cheques went to divisions of UMNO in the days immediately running up to the election and it is believed that the Prime Minister was attempting to buy personal loyalty through handing out the money himself.
Our data, obtained from the task force investigations, shows the transaction dates on those cheques, the amount and the recipients. It also shows the accounts from which the money came and all have been established as being in the name of Najib himself, funded by money traced to 1MDB. In particular, AmBank account number 211 202 2009694 was the account that received US$681 million from Tanore Finance Corporation in March 2013 – money identified as having come from 1MDB by the US Dept of Justice:
The pre-election cash bonanzas included a RM100,000,000 cheque handed to ‘Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Malaya Bersatu (UMNO)’ 11th April 2013 a week after the election had been announced. On 22nd April UMNO Malaysia again received two further cheques of RM50 million each.
Individual cheques were also handed out to all UMNO and related BN divisions, for example Badan Perhubungan UMNO Negeri Pahang received RM15 million on 18th April and the following day, April 19th, UMNO Penang received RM5 million. Kelantan division received RM5 million on 10th April.
Amongst the many other similar payments was RM5 million both the UMNO state party of Kedah and the MCA Selangor Liason Committee on 8th April and RM20 million to UMNO Selangor on April 24th. UMNO Perak received its handout on April 29th of RM25 million with another five million each going to UMNO Selangor and the MCA Selangor Liason Committee again the following day. Also on 30th April Johor UMNO received RM25 million, less than a week before the election.
The UMNO womens’ divisions also received significant pay outs, signifying the party’s appreciation of the importance of ‘winning’ the female vote: Pergerakan Puteri UMNO Malaysia received a RM5 million cheque 27th February and Pergerakan Wanita UMNO Selangor RM1.1 million 22nd March and Wanita Barisan Nasional Selangor RM1 million on 17th May.
Allied parties also received big money, for example the Liberal Democratic Party received RM1 million 5th April, the Malaysian Indian Congress received RM10 million on the 18th April and a further RM5 million 26th April. SUPP received RM2 million 20th March. The previous year UPCO had received RM2 million, indeed over the election huge sums were dished out to Sabah and particularly Sarawak (of which more later).
Since all this money came from stolen public funds, borrowed at punishing rates of interest under false pretenses, the ultimate cost to the Malaysian taxpayer will be at least double the sums handed out in this exercise to buy votes for the ruling party, who was abusing its position in such a spectacular fashion.
Furthermore, as Najib was operating a secret slush fund, which his Deputy Muhyiddin and others who were senior in the party at the time say they were entirely unaware of, there appears to be no official record relating to who received and handled the money and what it was actually spent on. Clearly, these staggering sums were distributed over and above UMNO’s official party funds for the election.
Najib has attempted to legitimise this money by claiming that it was all donated to him personally by an anonymous Saudi royal, in order to make sure he could ‘win’ the election in order to promote ‘moderate Islam’. ‘Moderate Islam’ is not generally regarded as the Saudi trademark, yet an even more absurd excuse was then spun in the western media (BBC and Telegraph) claiming that the money was focused on ‘projects’ in Sarawak ‘to prevent the uptake of Islamic extremism’ in the majority Christian state.
The fact that such levels of expenditures and foreign interference is plainly illegal appears a lesser evil to the Prime Minister, rather than admitting that the money was stolen from 1MDB. However, money trails released by the US Dept of Justice demonstrate that this was where the money came from.
The major part of these sums was handed out in the form of cheques during the closing days of the election campaign. Between April 8th and the election 5th May around RM400 million was signed out. The question therefore has to be asked what was the money actually for?
There are limited ways in which local political parties might be able to spend such vast quantities of last minute cash. It appears the party received this last minute injection therefore just in the final closing hours of the campaign.
Advertising is not really an issue for BN, since they control the entire state and private mainstream media, which acts as an obedient propaganda tool for the party in return for their privileges and licences. Given the lack of records it would also appear impossible to prove how much of the money reached its intended purpose, as opposed to buying the loyalty of the trusted intermediaries who handled it. So, what was this money for?
One obvious allegation that begs investigation is vote buying.
Anecdotes abound, backed by solid photographic evidence in some cases, of cash being handed out to voters outside polling booths by UMNO workers, who were clearly distinguishable by their flags and logos. Despite numerous complaints the courts have refused to entertain a single case and the Election Commission also has refused to acknowledge or tackle Malaysia’s problem with blatant ‘money politics’.
People are entitled to assume that a man who is willing to raid his country’s development fund, as well as the civil servant pension fund, the prilgims’ fund, the farmers’ fund and doubtless other sources of public money, is unlikely to hesitate to attempt to bribe voters with a little of that money back in the form of payment for votes.
If the Prime Minister has another explanation for these last minute cheques, Sarawak Report would be happy to publish it. His PR man Paul Stadlen has our email.