Bersatu has pre-emptively published its account statement after rumours spread that the political party’s account has been frozen. When the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) finally confirmed that Bersatu’s (PPBM) accounts were indeed frozen over money-laundering investigation on Feb 1, 2023 – one day after its account statement – the party thought it could claim innocence.
The damage control by the Malaysian United Indigenous Party was to create a narrative that if it could reveal its assets and cash to the public “before” the MACC officially announced the freezing of its accounts, it might look less guilty. And if it could show that its accounts did not have RM4.5 billion, it could hoodwink its gullible supporters into believing it did not steal any money.
After publishing the party’s account statement, Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin’s former principal private secretary, Marzuki Mohamad, immediately gloats – “For those who accused Bersatu of receiving RM4 billion from the RM92.5 billion Economic Stimulus Package fund, you can see the audited party account statements for 2020 and 2021.”
The party’s account shows a balance RM28.4 million in 2020 and RM64.6 million in 2021. Interestingly, in 2020, Bersatu received RM109 million in so-called donations. The next year, it received RM148 million in yet another round of dubious donations. In total, it had received RM257 million in donations in just two years. Exactly who would be so generous to donate so much money to Bersatu?
Former backdoor Prime Minister Muhyiddin should just keep his mouth shut, instead of instructing his minion to reveal the accounts. Marzuki, clearly not so bright, appears to be clueless that it was a red herring for the party to prove that it did not receive RM4.5 billion kickbacks from the RM92.5 billion Covid-19 stimulus program, which Muhyiddin had earlier bragged to be RM600 billion.
Yes, it was Muhyiddin himself who sang like a canary in April 2021 that the Perikatan Nasional backdoor government under his leadership has splashed more than RM600 billion to boost the economy and rescue the people. The power-hungry man was particularly proud with his brilliance when he declared a State of Emergency to rule with absolute power – freely plundering public funds.
All hell broke loose after Muhyiddin failed to form a government post-15th General Election. Newly crowned PM Anwar Ibrahim told a media conference on Dec 5, 2022 that the Finance Ministry had been informed of several breaches involving the Covid-19 funds. Muhyiddin screamed that he did not steal any money after Anwar said there were some dubious expenditures involving the RM600 billion.
Panicked, Muhyiddin admits there was no such thing as RM600 billion, contradicting his previous claims. He said it was only RM530 billion. Even then, he played down the numbers. Spilling the beans, he said his administration had only spent RM83 billion in fiscal injections. This means Muhyiddin’s government did not actually help the people to the tune of RM530 billion as shamelessly trumpeted.
However, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said it will focus on its investigation on the RM92.5 billion “directly funded” by the Muhyiddin regime after it was established that RM437.5 billion was not from the government. On the night of January 5, the MACC arrested 42-year-old Adam Radlan Adam Muhammad, who turns out to be Muhyiddin’s right-hand man.
Apparently, Mr Adam was arrested over his role as “middleman” in brokering government projects related to Covid-19 stimulus packages worth RM92.5 billion (US$21 billion) in exchange for bribes. A former chief executive of Maju Assets Sdn Bhd, he is also Segambut divisional leader of Muhyiddin’s political party – Bersatu (Malaysian United Indigenous Party).
The best part is Adam is the cousin of Muhyiddin’s son-in-law, Muhamad Adlan Berhan, who in turn was involved in several scandals. Mr Adlan married to Muhyiddin’s daughter, Nabilah, who is a shareholder of Agathistwo Jia Sdn Bhd, a company involved in the scandalous RM1.2 billion NIIS (National Integrated Immigration System) concession.
After the MACC raided 8 government agencies and 9 companies in December 2022 as part of its investigation into the suspected misappropriation of RM92.5 billion by the Perikatan Nasional government, it was found that at least 5 middlemen of several companies were involved in obtaining projects worth between RM50 million and RM500 million through direct negotiations.
Contractors who have been grilled by the anti-graft agency admitted that they agreed to pay a commission of 3% to 5% to secure projects from those middlemen. This means up to RM4.5 billion could have been paid to Adam and his gang of middlemen on behalf of Muhyiddin. Of course, the ex-PM was not dumb enough to deposit all the dirty money into his private bank accounts, not after 1MDB scandal.
Unlike former PM Najib Razak, whose stealing saw more than US$700 million (hence the infamous RM2.6 billion) from the 1MDB sovereign fund landed in his personal bank accounts, Muhyiddin knew how to divert “his share” to offshore accounts, leaving the necessary kickbacks to fund the 15th General Election campaign, including up to RM350 for each Malay vote bought.
Now we know why Muhyiddin had gone hiding on a long holiday in London recently, while another former premier, Ismail Sabri, was also holidaying nearby in Dubai, along with other crooks. Real estate in the United Kingdom is highly favoured among not only Malaysian property investors, but also corrupt politicians and family members, including Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz.
Crucially, London is a well-known hub for money laundering, where the drug lords, corrupt politicians, Russian oligarchs and other economic offenders have kept their dirty money parked in the country in the form of property and other assets. A report by The Economist said that the money-laundering problem in the “Laundromat London” involves at least US$125 billion per year.
A tax haven, Dubai too is a top destination for illicit cash, and a preferred hub for money laundering. In fact, last year (2022), Paris-based Financial Action Task Force puts the UAE (United Arab Emirates), home to Dubai and oil-rich Abu Dhabi, on a “gray list” of 23 countries that isn’t doing enough to stop criminals and militants from hiding wealth there.
Marzuki’s premature gloating could come back to haunt Bersatu. Investigated under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001, the frozen of the party’s account was triggered after MACC found sufficient evidence from 10 contractors who had paid more than RM300 million in so-called donations into Bersatu’s accounts.
Based on 5% commission, it means dubious projects involving more than RM6 billion had been given for the purpose of soliciting RM300 million in donations during PM Muhyiddin Yassin’s 17-month regime (March 2020 – August 2021) and PM Ismail Sabri’s 14-month administration (Aug 2021 – Oct 2022). But Bersatu’s account statements only showed RM257 million in donations in 2020 and 2021.
The discrepancies and inconsistencies mean Bersatu had continued receiving kickbacks in 2022 – with or without assistance from Sabri. It could also mean PAS Islamist party might have become Bersatu’s partner-in-crime, receiving the remaining bribes disguised as donations. Having less than RM4 billion in the party’s account does not mean Bersatu is any less guilty, let alone clear from corruption.
Muhyiddin’s errand boy Marzuki thought they could hide behind audited reports. But hadn’t Najib and his minion Arul Kanda pulled a similar trick, only for the world to see how the 1MDB audit report was tampered? An account statement is not foolproof, therefore it isn’t the final piece of evidence that Muhyiddin and his band of crooks had only received RM257 million.
In another pre-emptive move, Bersatu’s secretary-general Hamzah Zainudin has accused the unity government of Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional of using the MACC to “kill” Bersatu and Perikatan Nasional’s credibility. That’s laughable because both MACC Chief Commissioner Azam Baki and Attorney General Idrus Harun were political appointees of Muhyiddin to begin with.
Desperate for cash to buy votes in the coming six state elections, obviously the party is playing psychology game with hilarious accusations that the unity government was trying to cripple Bersatu. The freezing of Bersatu accounts is quite different from that of UMNO’s, whose bank accounts were similarly frozen in 2018 involving over RM194 million linked to 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd).
First of all, UMNO was then part of Perikatan Nasional government. Hence, there was no incentive for Muhyiddin to kill UMNO by forfeiting the frozen money. In addition, the prosecutors – either deliberately or ignorantly – had failed to convince the court that the RM194 million came from Najib. More importantly, there was no evidence to prove that the monies came from unlawful activities.
In the case of Bersatu, however, the ill-gotten money came directly from 5% commission masked as donations. The MACC has 10 suspects and more than RM300 million money trails as evidence. At best, the party could see its money forfeited. At worst, Muhyiddin and other crooks could be arrested and charged for money laundering, and the party declared illegal and de-registered by the RoS (Registrar of Society).
No matter how Bersatu leaders like to twist and spin, they have to explain how the party, founded in 2016 and was only in power for 17 months (less than 2 years) under Muhyiddin, could accumulate a jaw-dropping RM257 million in cash. The United Malays National Organization (UMNO) only had RM194 million despite being in power for 61 years (or 76 years since its inception in 1946).
The Coverage Malaysia