Thursday, 21 May 2015

Bank Negara makes it difficult for 1MDB? (2)

I wrote before about this rather puzzling statement:

“The remaining US$1.103bil in 1MDB’s investment funds managed by Cayman (Islands) Monetary Authority has been redeemed and is kept in US currency at BSI Bank Ltd Singapore (BSI Singapore),” he said in a written reply to the Dewan Rakyat in response to a question raised by Petaling Jaya North MP Tony Pua.

“The decision to use a bank in Singapore is to facilitate transactions as Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) regulations require approval by the bank for each transaction exceeding RM50mil,” wrote Najib, who is also the Prime Minister.

It didn't seem to make any sense at all. And when that is the case, often something else is going on.

This article in The Edge "1MDB has no cash after all" dropped a bombshell on the whole affair:

There is no cash after all in 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) Singapore bank account.

That was the shocking revelation by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pic) yesterday in response to a parliamentary question asked by DAP lawmaker Tony Pua.

Pua asked whether Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) had been informed by the authorities in Singapore that the bank statements of 1MDB and its subsidiary (Brazen Sky Ltd) at the Singapore account of Swiss bank BSI had been falsified and whether there was US$1.103 billion (RM3.99 billion) in cash in the account as previously stated.

“1MDB has explained that the redeemed investments of 1MDB [from the Cayman Islands] are in the form of assets in US dollars in a bank in Singapore for the purpose of balancing the liability of the company’s US dollar,” said Najib in his written reply to Pua.

Najib, who is also the finance minister, told Parliament in March that the cash redeemed from the funds that were kept in the Cayman Islands is now with BSI Singapore. In his written reply yesterday, he said the answer he gave in March is now “amended”.

Transparency of 1MDB has been simply horrific, any small listed company on Bursa would put 1MDB to shame. Even the tiniest of ACE-listed companies with assets that are less than 1/10,000th of the size of 1MDB needs to issue:

  • quarterly statements (although unaudited)
  • audited yearly statements, including the notes and lists of assets
  • year reports, including statements by the Board of Directors
  • announcements regarding any major issue
  • a reply to queries of Bursa within one working day

And all has to be done in a correct and timely fashion.

1MDB's website contains none of the above, except for some photo's of smiling children and a highly biased selection of news articles (conveniently leaving out any critical article).

1MDB urgently needs to increase it's transparency in a big way, the more so since it manages OPM (Other People's Money).

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