There was no mention of the 1MDB corruption scandal when Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak met with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Tuesday (12 September).
While Malaysia’s Attorney General has cleared the Prime Minister of any wrong doing in the case, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) alleged that Najib’s close acquaintances, like stepson Riza Aziz and businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) have stolen about US$4.5 billion from state sovereign fund 1MDB between 2009 and 2014.
The DoJ claimed that US$1.7 billion of this massive amount was used to purchase assets in the US, including real estate, and the federal government has filed a case in court to sequester these properties.
Aside from real estate in other countries, it also alleged that part of the money was spent on the production of Hollywood films like Leonardo DiCaprio’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” and the purchase a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace worth US$27.3 million for Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor.
According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, she was not aware that this issue was brought up during the talks. What is known is that Trump lauded Najib for Malaysia’s investments in the US and his country’s help in combating Islamic State terrorists.
“Mr. Prime Minister, it’s a great honour to have you in the United States and in the White House,” said Trump.
On the other hand, Najib narrated Malaysia’s acquisition of Boeing aircraft, which Trump estimated to be valued between US$10 billion and US$20 billion.
Meanwhile, experts believe Najib wanted to use the White House visit to improve his chance in the general elections which is expected to happen by mid-2018.
“He can tell Malaysians that the 1MDB is a non-issue and that the opposition’s message that he is unwelcome by world leaders is not true. He will also try to convey the impression that the US investigation on 1MDB has nothing to do with him,” said James Chin, head of the Asia Institute in Australia’s University of Tasmania.
Image sourced from NST.
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