Another Bank Set To Crash Over 1MDB

Some Malaysians might need reminding that the rest of the world regards 1MDB as one of the world’s greatest recent scandals and biggest theft of all time, given the repetitive ‘alternative facts’ promoted by chief perpetrator, Najib Razak.

Today it emerged in the New York Times that Falcon Bank, owned previously by the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund IPIC/Aabar (now absorbed by Mubadala) looks set to lose its banking licence from the Swiss financial authority FINMA.

FINMA has been investigating Falcon Bank’s role in 1MDB ever since Sarawak Report broke the story that its Singapore branch funnelled a staggering US$681 million (RM2.6 billion) into the ex-prime minister’s personal AmBank account over the matter of a couple of days back in March 2013, following which Najib dissolved parliament and called an election.

The cash from 1MDB was then liberally used by Najib to fund his political allies and his own expenditures to the tune of millions, before he wound down the account after the election and passed the money out through Falcon Singapore once more into a number of global investments managed by his proxy Jho Low, including blockbuster movies made by his stepson Riza Aziz.

Falcon Private Bank, a wealth manager that was at the centre of Malaysia’s 1MDB scandal, could lose its Swiss banking licence by the end of the week, two sources close to the situation told Reuters. Swiss financial markets watchdog FINMA could withdraw the licence for the private bank owned by Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment Company [MUDEV.UL] on the grounds that it has continuously failed to meet regulatory requirements, the sources said. “Falcon employees are preparing to wind down the institute,” one of the people said. A social plan for employees losing their jobs was also in the works.

Falcon, FINMA and Mubadala all declined to comment.

Falcon gained global notoriety in 2015 after it was reported that investigators found nearly $700 million had been transferred from an account at the bank’s Singapore outpost to accounts in Malaysia linked to then Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib, now on trial for corruption in Malaysia, denies all charges against him. FINMA found in 2016 that Falcon had violated money-laundering regulations by failing to carry out adequate background checks into transactions and business relationships associated with state fund 1MDB which were booked in Switzerland, Singapore and Hong Kong…… read more at the New York Times

The Swiss head of Falcon Bank, Jans Sturzenegger, has already done time in jail in Singapore for allowing the sums to pass through the branch, despite the numerous money laundering Red Flags. In fact, Sturzenegger and his staff had alerted their Swiss bosses about the suspicious transactions and warned against them, however they were over ruled on the grounds that people high up on the board of the bank in Abu Dhabi wished for the transactions to proceed.

Those individuals were without doubt the CEO of IPIC/Chairman of Aabar, Khadem al Qubaisi, who was known as the right hand man of Sheikh Mansour (the younger brother of the Crown Prince Mohammed) at the time, as well has his side-kick Mohammed al Husseiny who held the job of CEO at Aabar.

Both men were to receive massive kickbacks totalling over half a billion dollars for their part in facilitating the 1MDB thefts and funnelling money to Najib through the bank and a web of bogus off-shore companies which they set up to appear as if they were official subsidiaries of Aabar itself.

Tens of millions of that kickback money went into funding Shekh Mansour’s super-yacht and a mass of global properties and enterprises.  Shortly after their role in the scandal was first exposed by Sarawak Report back in March 2015 both men were arrested, sacked and imprisoned in Abu Dhabi.

Yet, Najib continues to protest his complete innocence as the case staggers through the Malaysian courts and in recent weeks, following the unconfirmed coup by his political allies, he has started to express confidence that he will be found innocent on all counts.

Whilst young and elderly people of good standing have been dragged through the courts in chains and left in many cases to languish in prison thanks to problems in posting bail in recent weeks (owing to limited banking hours and unaffordable bail demands) owing to the backdoor government’s stringent movement control orders, Najib has continued to walk free, attend parliament and brag to anyone who will listen that he expects to be found not guilty.

IPIC’s Improved Prospects Over Legal Battle vs 1MDB 

The move on Falcon Bank is not the only development in recent days that further points the finger at Najib and dirty dealings with high up folk in Abu Dhabi over 1MDB.

The epic legal battle between 1MDB and IPIC over who owes the billions run up in debts thanks to both side’s complicity in this scandal has just been nominated one of the most important judicial decisions of the year by the British courts after judges agreed with Malaysia’s recently replaced Attorney General, Tommy Thomas, that the dispute with IPIC/Aabar should be heard in court and not settled by a backroom deal at a private arbitration court, as earlier agreed by Najib.

Najib, together with the rulers of Abu Dhabi and managers of IPIC had come to that agreement back in 2017, meaning the dispute between the two countries over who should pay the billions owed, thanks to dubious bonds organised as part of the 1MDB heist by Goldman Sachs. The bank itself and 1MDB officials (including Najib) and IPIC officials had all creamed off vast kickbacks from the heist, leaving the vast sums plus interest now to be repaid.

Malaysia stood to loose billions to IPIC as a result of the secret arbitration and cover-up, according to Malaysia’s law enforcers, who took action to retrieve the money and sue Abu Dhabi for its part in the fraud immediately Najib was booted out of office in 2018.

Added damning evidence came at the start of this year, when MACC officials released secret recordings of telephone conversations between Najib and Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince, in which the two men can heard effectively agreeing to the cover-up to protect ‘people close to’ both men. Najib named his step-s0n Riza, whilst Sheikh Mohammed is heard acknowledging he too had persons to protect.

The British court decision was therefore a triumph for Malaysia, in that it opened the door to exposing the deal as a fraud that had enabled Abu Dhabi to claw back billions from 1MDB, in order to keep silent about the missing money and the part played by officials, in particular Najib Razak.

However, in the same way that Najib now plainly expects the coup coalition to get him off all the domestic charges facing him in Malaysia, he will doubtless also be pressuring the ‘PM8’ government to withdraw from its success in obtaining its favourable and ground-breaking judgement the British High Court, so that the case can be once more returned to a secretive arbitration instead.

Abu Dhabi will be most relieved to avoid exposure of high up figures in an open British court along with the danger of being found guilty of fraud and forced to pay Malaysia billions.

But it will charge a Najib high price once more for the cover-up service without a doubt, if this turns out to be the case, meaning that instead of Malaysia benefitting from a ruling where billions ought to have been returned, it will be the Abu Dhabi Sheikhs (who also have their secrets to cover up in this matter) who get Malaysia’s money.

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