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Archive for July 14th, 2017

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A split down the middle.

Yeo Jiawei, this is your brother, Ah Jho. I’m writing to warn you: don’t you rat on me! Do you know who you’re dealing with, you piece of Singapore Hokkein shit!

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If 1MDB is ‘victim’ then so must be Najib Razak

If victim, therefore innocent…

For Singapore to label Jho Low as something of a mastermind who has ‘gone missing’, and then, in the same breath, declare 1MDB innocent — a ‘victim’, it says — is astonishing in the Singapore cases against its bankers. Such a statement means a lot. It means, in particular, a turning point, one for Najib Razak to go one way, another for Jho Low to go another — jail.

From Singapore:

Prosecutors in Singapore said that Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho is the central figure in probes linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd. and that he used money traceable to the state fund for his own benefit.

Low received “huge” sums of money, the prosecutors said in court filings made public on Wednesday. About $1 billion that 1MDB was purported to invest in a joint venture with PetroSaudi International Ltd. was diverted to a bank account beneficially owned by Low, according to the filings.

“The main victim in this case is 1MDB,” prosecutor Nathaniel Khng said in a Singapore state court. “Jho Low has gone missing from the public eye.”

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Yes and noted, Ah Jibgor.

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Peeling the Onion

Jho Low-Najib Reaches a Turning Point

*

Recall that there is nothing like this — ever — in the history of world finance: the government of Malaysia registers a shell company and, with it, borrows more than USD10 bn that most countries will have trouble raising even half, then empties the company, and the whole thing vanishes, from the existence of the board of directors down to Arul Kanda’s office furniture and toilet bowl.

For an investigator of this fraud, where then to begin especially since you are not lodged in Malaysia and you are from outside looking in?

In this circumstance, think therefore of 1MDB as onion with which you peel, starting from the outside. Naturally.

The first encounters would be people at the periphery, namely Yak Yew Chee of BSI Singapore, his subordinate Yvonne Seah and, separately Jens Sturzenegger of Falcon Bank. It is through these people that money is received on Jho Low’s behalf and then remitted. Or, the money may be received by Falcon, by other banks, and also remitted.

As the onion approaches the core center, you come to Yeo Jiawei, also of BSI. How does one know that Yeo is an important catch? Simply because, of the five persons convicted of 1MDB-related offenses, only Yeo travels in Jho Low’s private jet and spends time in the man’s house. These are not acts of an ordinary bank-client relationship although Yeo speaks of Low in the third person — ‘boss’, he calls him.

Although he take instructions, although he might map a plan or carry it out, Low can’t be the core because 1MDB is sovereignty and the sums are too big (for a boy his size). He might be the layer over the core, where there is one man and he only, not a pair or three-some.

At Yeo, you can establish the connective tissue between he and Low, and this is the 1MDB money. Now, here is the investigator’s dilemma: do you go on peeling or do you stop? If stop, where? At Yeo? Low or beyond?

The answer is probably, ‘Yes, stop’, because at the point of Yeo (and certainly at Low) the crime of money laundering reaches its limit. For example, it was not illegal for Low to remit money to Malaysia since it wasn’t illegal to receive it (from 1MDB or whoever).

Beyond Low what’s left of the money trail? Any money still with Low, if it has not already left Singapore (for, say, AmBank in Malaysia or Rothschild in Switzerland), it would have gone into fund investments, or to buy love, buy diamonds, condos, and so on.

Once the onion stops to be stripped, how is one to establish a connection between Low and Najib Razak? Money, specifically 1MDB money, is the only link, just as it was assumed that love was the connection between Low and Miranda Kerr.

Establishing the Low-Najib connection is vital because of about USD10 bn borrowed between 2009 and 2013 by 1MDB, at least USD8 bn was raised outside Malaysia and these, once taken out of 1MDB circulation, have to be parked somewhere, in some banks, before they are spent. Singapore has said nothing about how much in 1MDB’s money was passed through its banks; a good bet is USD2-3 bn. In Switzerland it is officially estimated at USD4 bn; in the US, 5 bn. (There are cases of overlap, of course.)

Assume USD5-7 bn (of 10 bn raised) were taken out of 1MDB’s circulation and control. That’s the theft. Remittances from Singapore to Najib’s personal bank account is about 700 million, that’s around 20 percent of 1MDB’s money parked at Singapore banks but is no more than 10 percent of grand total theft.

The Singapore trail-end of 1MDB’s money circulation is sketchy at best. Its investigators haven’t provided the robustness of evidence and clarity of transmission that one reads about in the DOJ court documents. Why?

Even Singapore’s five convictions so far don’t tie together as neatly as the connections that were strung among various people in the US. It is as if, in the convictions, each banker was an autonomous conduit. Singapore especially don’t detail a big picture view: how the money trail started, the sums involved at each stage of transmission, how these were spirited out of 1MDB, how they entered Singapore, who were the players, their relationships, the conduits, their respective roles, and, finally, where the monies ended up.

Quiet plainly, Singapore’s entire investigation and judicial process is a fucking PR exercise.

Even its central bank admitted as much: the entire show was designed to redeem Singapore’s reputation as a clean place. In other words, law and judicial enforcement wasn’t aimed at rooting out the thieves, the people at the core of the 1MDB web, but simply to clean house and to clear out the intermediaries, the facilitators, the fences, and not the looters. The result? Only bankers got it so far.

On the other hand, where it concerns Najib and the entire 1MDB board and management, there is next to nothing, with the consequence that they could still whistle away as they dress up each morning and drive to their offices.

Then, this week, out of the blue and for no explicable reason, something else happened with Yeo’s conviction: Jho Low was made to stand out of the pack.

Which is to say, criminality has now been presented at Low’s door step, which is an accusation that resulted primarily from Yeo’s testimonies. But, what exactly is Singapore’s charge against Low? Money laundering? Against a man who doesn’t work in the laundry, that is, the bank? Suppose it comes to that, getting to a formal charge, there appears so far only the evidences of Yeo’s to go with, which is the ‘boss’ and the underling relationship.

This isn’t the only predicament at Singapore (which, really, is their own fault because those guys were either incompetent or halfhearted in their jobs or both).

Another predicament: For Singapore to find some sort of criminality with Low, the money derived in his accounts has to be illegitimate. This means going backwards in the investigations, as opposed to the series of convictions so far which traced the money, first from having come out of nowhere seemingly, and then going forward one step at a time from account to account.

But, backward or forward, the complete 1MDB money transmission trail always starts and end outside Singapore, unlike the cases pending in the US. This then means that, where the prosecution of Low is concerned, the trail in Singapore has to stop somewhere in the middle. If so, so must the investigations and the prosecutions. (Najib remains out of the picture because the latter is not known to have accounts in Singapore where multiple 1MDB fund transactions took place.)

Low make a statement almost immediately after Yeo Jiawei was jailed 54 months (news item on top). This is uncharacteristic of Low who, after all, by his own account, as well as 1MDB’s, was never involved in 1MDB affairs or in its decision-making. Here, below is verbatim from an unnamed spokesperson for Low, probably some public relations (PR) agent:

This (the claim of victim-hood) is an example of overreach with a politically motivated act and selectively chosen narrative alleging 1MDB as a ‘victim’, when it has been clearly stated by the Malaysian authorities that there has been no misappropriation of 1MDB funds.

No wrongdoing has been proved in any jurisdiction relating to the alleged misappropriation of 1MDB funds, and this development in Singapore does not change that.

Mr Low is confident that any impartial party presented with the complete facts will see that the allegations are flawed, biased and create an inaccurate picture.

To say that 1MDB is the victim (and not the perpetrator) is to say someone victimized it. Going over the text, you can see how Low panicked after the Singapore accusation, thereby incriminating himself: ‘If you have nothing or little to do with 1MDB, why are you speaking for it? Because the only authority on 1MDB’s behalf is Najib.’

Now, toss the same, above arguments around: Four people in jail over 1MDB isn’t because the money they handled was illegitimate but because they violated Compliance rules and committed such acts as forgery and false representation. That’s also to say, the victim isn’t 1MDB or its money — indeed there’s no victim but merely breaches of Singapore’s financial regulations.

To now say there is a victim, and the victim is 1MDB, is to say, not only had there been looting going around but especially that the proceeds of the 1MDB’s funds raised (the USD10 bn) were all intended for a legitimate purpose. 1MDB, to repeat, is the victim after all. All this shifts the entire ground on which 1MDB has operated, especially when compared to the DOJ deposition that paints 1MDB as a vehicle in which various persons connected to it, persons in and out, committed mass thieving, deception and so on. In fact, it upends the DOJ’s accusation.

Until Yeo’s conviction, Low was named in court papers as simply, a ‘person of interest’. In defining him now as ‘central’ in the prosecution cases, and in calling 1MDB the victim, Singapore is very plainly suggesting Low is a swindler.

What’s shocking from Singapore, however, isn’t Low. It is this instead: to say 1MDB is a victim, then Najib, sitting in the onion core, is also a victim. That is, he is innocent of any and all losses resulting from the looting at 1MDB even though the company’s structural set-up, its conduct, transactions and deals, done through him and other officers, were from Day One deliberately false, misrepresentative, conniving and fraudulent. This included the purchases of land and power plants, and especially its fund raising and the deals made with the Arabs. Simply restated, 1MDB has been a front for fraud.

Two matters are in Low’s advantage.

  • One, 1MDB isn’t run by him, a fact easily established both by inference and by evidence or absence thereof.
  • Two, which is an extension of the first, says that if he has no control over 1MDB how could he have influence over it? Because, the flip side argument says that if Low cheated 1MDB, it describes a situation wherein one individual has actually taken on a sovereign power. A whole country!

Singapore court cases have only so far showed that monies transacted through its banks were done in highly questionable and in plainly illegal manners (forgery, false representation and so on). But, these cases say nothing about the legality or illegality in how the monies came to Jho Low. Indeed, it is on record that money went from 1MDB to Low’s accounts in an open, transparent fashion. This can’t be illegal.

More important for the purpose of rooting out the thieves of 1MDB is that Singapore has neither reveal nor has it establish who let out the monies and who then authorized their transfers to Low. Even in the DOJ, this crucial element is missing. If, however, such transfers are beyond Singapore’s powers to act or if there is nothing illegal in them then how is it to find anything wrong with Low’s accounts?

Hence, Low’s complaint that Singapore had ‘over-reached’. On this, he has a point and Najib is proof: “Mr Low Taek Jho has never worked for 1MDB and all decisions and dealings of 1MDB was done by the management and board of directors,” Najib had said in a written parliamentary reply to Wangsa Maju MP Tan Kee Kwong in 2015.

Why then did Singapore switched Low’s status — which the latter terms as, ‘this development‘ — from ‘person of interest’ to scammer? And, in so doing, not only painted 1MDB as an innocent party but ignored and then threw out its entire history of fraudulent conduct made repeatedly over six years?

Once 1MDB is declared a ‘victim’, a line is drawn the sand, with only one way to look at its looting: those outside and those inside. Inside is good, outside is evil. Those inside are clean and innocent; those outside, such as Low, are the predators, the swindlers and the fraudsters, their thieving conduct greased by greedy bankers. Those outside have nothing to do with those inside and there is, therefore, no relationship, financial or otherwise, between the like of Low and the like of Najib.

But, this Singapore denouement is not how things appear from Malaysia.

Where Malaysia’s interests are concerned, its singular focus is at the opposite end, the receiving end, in the causal chain of transactions that goes from 1. monies raised > 2. monies in 1MDB > 3. monies pass through bank systems > 4. monies in Najib.

Stage 4 is the thing to nail Najib.

Singapore sits at Stage 3 and now says that there is no Stage 4 (again, see news item at the top of this post). Everything stops at Stage 3. Simply, it is saying that 1MDB, the victim, was defrauded and Low made off with the money, ruining Singapore’s clean reputation in the process.

With this inference, you can see why Low must have been so incensed that he quickly dashes off a statement and, in it, talked of ‘political motivations’ (a Najib-Singapore deal?) and then reasserted the repeated claim that nothing had been misappropriated from 1MDB. This line of defense is not mere regurgitation of Salleh Keruak or Apandi Ali.

The force in his legal reasoning lay in this: If there’s no misappropriation, then there’s nothing illegal about the money in his accounts. He could even say, these are gifts from Malaysia. Low is saying to Singapore thus:

All you have are some guys who broke banking and Compliance rules. On me, personally, you have nothing. But to call me a swindler where is the proof? Or, have you made a deal with Najib to sacrifice me because I want to remind you — and Malaysia — this, ‘If there is no misappropriation, if there’s no fraud, how can there be a victim’?

In a sense, Low is also warning Najib about the political motivations: ‘don’t fuck around behind my back’. In popular parlance: you aren’t going to throw me under the bus and get away with it.

The Chinese say, Joey is pointing to the plum tree while scolding the apricot.

Even so, for Singapore to take this extraordinary step — to make ‘this development‘ — suggests that Low might be done in. Or, at the minimum, there is going to be a parting of ways between thieves.

*

Details in image below. Also see, charge sheet.

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The diagram above shows just one of five transactions (another is here, in 2013, USD3 bn, involving the usual cast of characters with Tanore replacing Blackstone.) It started with USD790 million on a October day 2012. Two weeks later when it arrived at Low’s Selune account in Switzerland there was still USD110 million in spare change.

Holy Jesus shit! Even the Swiss authorities noticed and that began the process of a cover up, including forgery and false representation. Enter, thus, Yak Yew Chee.

With that sort of money lying around, you could hear them scream: “I want in!” Seeing USD790 million, people like Yeo Jiawei would have spent nights just working out his share and how to cream it off. “The earth moved under my feet,” sang and tweeted Li Lin Seet (below, or is it Seet Li Lin?), Low’s underling and assistant operator.

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With money like this, backed by a sovereign power, Singapore’s laundering role becomes inevitable: All very human for its bankers. That, after all, was how they were taught and trained to think at Wharton, in MBA classes, and once they are indoctrinated into the finance world, the Anglophile material culture. In all Yak made off with USD18 odd million (mostly forfeited since).

In the diagram above, note two things: (a) the prevalence of the name Low Taek Jho, whose ghost name is Tan Kim Loong, also Eric Tan, and (b) Blackstone, which was the funnel for some petty cash from Singapore to Najib’s private AmBank account. That’s another story, though.

What’s pertinent is this, and it is from the courts:

This masking and circular flow of funds from Jho Low (vide the ADKMIC BSI Account) to his father and back to Jho Low was described by an officer from BSI Compliance on 6 November 2012 as “nebulous to say the least and not acceptable in Compliance’s view”. Subsequently, Jho Low declared via e-mail on 7 November 2013 to BSI (enclosed and marked “H”) that he had decided to give to his father wealth which he had generated “as a matter of cultural respect and good fortune that arises from respect”, and his father had decided to accept a token sum and to give the rest back to him. Inexplicably, these pass-through flows were eventually processed after a senior BSI officer commented that “intra family transfers are not always going to be logical”.

That is, bankers will made exceptions to Compliance rules once ‘family’, ‘culture’ and almost certainly when ‘religion’ or ‘god’ or ‘royalty’ are invoked. But even that’s not the point about the Yak case.

The point is this instead, Najib Razak invoked an identical excuse on the USD681 million transferred from Tanore, after which Apandi Ali exonerated him as a ‘royal gift’, provided in the name of Allah, with which Najib then kept ‘a token sum and returned the rest’. That is, in the paraphrasing of the senior BSI officer, the money back and forth was an “intra-family transfer” affair.

Both Hisham and Najib have often referred to the Saudi towel heads as ‘Brothers‘, with a capital B. Bingo! No case.

Hey, my ‘Captain’ Brother Ahi: Singapore mess up on 1MDB, did you say? Mess up: You want to suck my dick, Brother?

And Joey boy: Is that what they teach you at Wharton’s? Culture, god and respect? You’re outdated, Brother! Don’t you know? God is dead! Dead for a 100 years already. And we are free…. Imagine, free to do as we like!

*

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On paper, above, it looks easy; it goes by linear progression and the point of the investigations in Singapore and the US centered primarily on the middle process — the money laundering — linking 1MDB in the beginning and MO1 in the end. But looking for money misappropriated from 1MDB is like looking for your own eye in the face. You’ll have to use a mirror and even there it is just an allusion, not reality.

When 1MDB is also MO1, you will have to call on the victim who’s simultaneously the thief, a contradiction. This is the crux of Low’s contention in his rebuttal to Singapore. The victim (1MDB), he adds, has repeatedly said so, nothing is missing from the house.

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Singapore’s latest prosecution and conviction of Yeo Jiawei concerns the ‘October 2012 Aabar/BVI Phase‘. This is the second tranche of USD3.5 bn raised by Goldman Sachs for 1MDB in 2012.

***

Joey & Miranda (continued)

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Jho’s Double Tragedy: Ditched Once, Ditched a Second Time.

Jho Low, the man everybody loves to hate. Cut him some slack, wil’ya!

He has already lost a girlfriend and now those Singapore assholes call him… mastermind, a runaway, ‘missing from the public eye’ as if he has the pubics of the world under his thumb. What pubic? What eye?’

Fuck the public! They worry for a White girl and diamonds more than for a poor Chinaman who have done so much for the kids and for the sick. What a racist world! And now the only person in the world who can save him is also going to ditch him. Sigh….

In despair, Low dashes off a message to Old Flame:

Miranda, you must have read the news. But stop smirking. Keep the love I gave you, it’s eternal, but give me back my diamonds! Don’t you see, it’s all I have left. They have taken everything, my paintings, my house, my hotel, my money, my friends — everything! They took especially you, my darling love… have you any idea how it pains me? Those Singapore Anglo and Yankee motherfuckers.

***

Safe journey, Joey 相思的債

(Can you read hanzi?)

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