Friday, 16 November 2018

WHAT HAS PENANG LEARNED FROM HONG KONG, Y.B. CHOW KON YEOW?

Free Malaysia Today of 16th November 2018 reported Penang Chief Minister (Menteri Besar) Y.B. Chow Kon Yeow saying that if Hong Kong had listened to the advice of Penang's pro-environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Hong Kong would  not be developed as it is today still be backward, and that Penang state would learn nothing if the state government which he leads listens to those NGOs - thus implying that Penang would not develop as fast if it listed to the advice of those NGOs.



Chow also cited that Hong Kong had suffered a landslide back in the 1970s in which resulted in the death of a hundred people but Hong Kong learned from their mistakes and come up with solutions to prevent future landslides.

Chow also referred to the landslide at the construction of the elevated Paya Terubong "paired road", resulting the death and injury of several people.

This recent comes almost a year after the 21 October 2018 landslide at the Granito housing construction site in Tanjung Bungah, which took 11 lives, mostly migrants workers.

I have three questions for The Right Honourable (Y.B.) Chow Kon Yeow.

1. You say that Hong Kong learned from its landslide tragedy in the 1970s, with studies which have developed means to avoid future landslides.

     My question then is what has Penang learned from Hong Kong's studies and measures which could have been applied to hill slope development in Penang, taking into consideration similarities and differences between hill slope geology, soil structure, soil stability, rainfall volume, risk from earthquakes and so forth of hills in Penang
      and Hong Kong?

2.  Are more and more high-rise buildings and construction in Penang, including on its hill slopes your sole measure of "development". What about development of more inventive and innovative industries which produce higher quality, higher value-added products which can bring more revenue to Penang's economy and provide more jobs,
      what about more affordable housing for Penang's people, what about quality of life issues for Penang residents?

3.  Whose interest are you serving, Y.B. Chow - those of the developers or those of Penang's people?

Free Malaysia Today article follows below:-

Chow: If HK had to take advice of Penang NGOs, it would still be backward

Predeep Nambiar - November 16, 2018 11:38 PM

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Padang Kota) today said the state would learn nothing if it took advice from parties urging it to stop all development projects following the recent landslide.

Taking the case of Hong Kong, which had a major landslide in the 1970s which killed nearly a hundred, he said the island learnt from its mistakes and decided to move on to come up with solutions.

Chow said as a result, they have become resilient in matters of hill development and have formed a geotechnical department much envied by others in the world.

He said although the Bukit Kukus incident was regrettable, there is a lesson to be learnt by all and the government is doing all it can to prevent a repeat.

Chow said the state was committed to improving worksite safety and compliance and would commit to taking the Hong Kong path.

"If NGOs like those in Penang were in Hong Kong, asking for development to be stopped over a landslide, Hong Kong would not be as developed as it is today.

"I can imagine them saying 'okay incidents happened, stop everything; state must stop all development projects'.

"The other option is to admit the faults and recognise the need to improve and move on.

"Now you see Hong Kong building on the steepest slopes without much fuss," he said during his winding-up speech at the state assembly today.

Last month, nine workers died in a landslide at a road construction site on a hill slope in Bukit Kukus.

The official cause of the incident is yet to be known pending a state and police investigation. Experts claim proper hill-cutting procedures were not adhered to.

'NGOs plucking figures from sky

Chow also addressed another thorny topic involving Penang's projected population in the next 10 to 20 years in the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

The Penang Forum has claimed the estimates were too high and unrealistic to justify an expensive transport system, such as the Light Rail Transit (LRT).

An expert had reportedly said the population density for the reclaimed islands, at 21,636 people per square km was unrealistic, which was higher than London city centre (11,522 people per square km), Paris (20,909 people per square km) and Hong Kong (17,000 people per square km).

Chow said the population projection by the project delivery partner of the PTMP was based on data from the Statistics Department.

He said official numbers show Penang had a population of 1.7 million last year and this is expected to grow by 25,000 to 30,000, or at a 1.5-2.5% rate each year in coming years.

Chow said by the time the PTMP projects are completed, around 2030, Penang would have "at least 2.3 million people", as revealed by the country's statisticians.

"NGOs sometimes pluck figures from the sky, without referring to official statistics. The PTMP population estimate was based on the number available when the projection was made, which was in 2015.

"Based on population growth data and the current population, by 2030, we will have 2.2 to 2.4 million people.

"So how are we going to cater to that many people? Can the island hold these many people?" he asked, saying this was where the reclaimed islands came into play.

Chow said with the reclaimed islands, Penang will have more space to house its extra population.

"Maybe the NGOs are not responsible for the future 2.4 million Penangites but as the government, we need to take care of the future population.

"The PTMP will spur growth and create jobs from an excellent public transport system and other measures," he said.

PTMP will see a series of highways and transit lines built in the state in the next 20 to 30 years at a cost of RM46 billion.

It would be financed through the creation of three artificial islands on the south of Penang Island, which would later be auctioned off to interested parties. However, the plan has yet to be approved by environmental regulators.

The Penang government is eager to kickstart two of its main projects, the Pan Island Link 1 highway (costing RM8 billion) and the Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT line (RM8.4 billion).

The state has requested for a soft loan of RM1 billion to kick-start both the projects so they can proceed concurrently, without having to wait for the islands to be reclaimed.


Yours trully


Politischeiss

Thursday, 1 November 2018

AT LONG LAST, THE US DoJ IS MOVING ON 1MDB, AND WITH CRIMINAL CHARGES

It's been well over two years now, since then U.S. Attorney General, Loretta A. Lynch announced on 20 July, 2016, the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund (a.k.a. 1MDB), the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced in a statement on its website that day.


After that, nothing much happened in this regard for a long time. Meanwhile, Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency in November 2016, Loretta Lynch is no longer U.S. Attorney General, whilst there was a revolving door of U.S. Attorneys General under President Trump and reports that further action on the DoJ's civil forfeiture suit would be suspended so as not to jeopardise criminal proceedings which would take place but still, nothing much happened after that - until on 1 November 2018, when  The Malay Mail reported:-

Report: US to announce charges against former Goldman bankers for 1MDB

Published 48 minutes ago on 01 November 2018



WASHINGTON, Nov 1 — The US Justice Department is set to announce multiple criminal charges today against two former Goldman Sachs bankers and Malaysian financier Jho Low tied to the Malaysia 1MDB sovereign wealth fund scandal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Citing sources familiar with the case, the Wall Street Journal said Tim Leissner, former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and will forfeit US$43.7 million (RM182.5 million).

Roger Ng, the other former Goldman banker, was arrested in Malaysia and Jho Low, last seen in China, will be indicted. He was last seen in China.

Goldman, which generated about US$600 million in fees for its work with 1MDB, has in the past repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said it is fully cooperating with authorities. — Reuters


Followed shortly after by:-

Report: US to announce charges against former Goldman bankers for 1MDB

Published 45 minutes ago on 01 November 2018

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 — The US Justice Department is set to announce multiple criminal charges today against two former Goldman Sachs bankers and Malaysian financier Jho Low tied to the Malaysia 1MDB sovereign wealth fund scandal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Citing sources familiar with the case, the Wall Street Journal said Tim Leissner, former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and will forfeit US$43.7 million (RM182.5 million).

Roger Ng, the other former Goldman banker, was arrested in Malaysia and Jho Low, last seen in China, will be indicted. He was last seen in China.

Goldman, which generated about US$600 million in fees for its work with 1MDB, has in the past repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said it is fully cooperating with authorities. — Reuters


Followed by:-

US unveils indictments in 1MDB scandal

Published 35 minutes ago on 01 November 2018

NEW YORK, Nov 1 — US officials unveiled criminal indictments today against a former official with scandal-plagued Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB and a former Goldman Sachs banker involved in an elaborate alleged bribery scheme.

The US Justice Department arrested former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng Chong Hwa in Malaysia today, while the former 1MDB official, Low Taek Jho, remains at large, officials said in a press release.

Another ex-Goldman official, Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay US$43.7 million (RM182.5 million) in ill-gotten gains.

The 1MDB scandal has roiled politics in Malaysia, leading to criminal charges against former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. — AFP


Followed by a long and more detailed article:-

US DoJ confirms Jho Low, ex-banker Roger Ng indicted over 1MDB scandal

Published 25 minutes ago on 01 November 2018

NEW YORK, Nov 1 — A three-count criminal indictment was unsealed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Low Taek Jho, also known as "Jho Low," and Ng Chong Hwa, also known as "Roger Ng," with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia's investment development fund, and conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials. As part of the three-count indictment, Ng is also charged with conspiring to violate the FCPA by circumventing the internal accounting controls of a major New York-headquartered financial institution (Financial Institution), which underwrote more than US$6 billion (RM25 billion) in bonds issued by 1MDB in three separate bond offerings in 2012 and 2013, while Ng was employed at the Financial Institution as a managing director. Ng was arrested earlier today in Malaysia, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant issued at the request of the United States. Low remains at large.

Also unsealed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York was the guilty plea of Tim Leissner, the former South-east Asia Chairman and participating managing director of the Financial Institution, to a two-count criminal information charging Leissner with conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the FCPA by both paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing the internal accounting controls of the Financial Institution while he was employed by it. According to court filings, Leissner has been ordered to forfeit US$43,700,000 as a result of his crimes.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John P. Cronan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, William F. Sweeney, Jr, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Los Angeles Field Office, announced the charges.

The criminal scheme

1MDB is a Malaysian state-owned and controlled fund created to pursue investment and development projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia and its people. As alleged in court filings, between approximately 2009 and 2014, as 1MDB raised money to fund its projects, billions of dollars were misappropriated and fraudulently diverted from 1MDB, including funds 1MDB raised in 2012 and 2013 through three bond transactions that it executed with the Financial Institution. As part of the scheme, and as alleged in court filings, Low, Ng, Leissner and others conspired to bribe government officials in Malaysia, including at 1MDB, and Abu Dhabi to obtain and retain lucrative business for the Financial Institution, including the 2012 and 2013 bond deals. They also allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds of their criminal conduct through the US financial system by purchasing, among other things, luxury residential real estate in New York City and elsewhere, and artwork from a New York-based auction house, and by funding major Hollywood films.

As alleged, Low's close relationships with high-ranking government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi were central to the scheme. Ng, Leissner, and others at the Financial Institution allegedly knew Low was close to these government officials, including a high-ranking Malaysian government official who had authority to approve 1MDB business decisions (Malaysian Official #1). According to allegations in court filings, beginning in approximately 2009 and continuing through 2014, Low, Ng, Leissner and the other co-conspirators used Low's relationships to obtain and retain business for the Financial Institution through the promise and payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes, including to ensure 1MDB awarded the Financial Institution a role on three bond transactions known internally at the Financial Institution as "Project Magnolia," "Project Maximus" and "Project Catalyze." As a result of its work for 1MDB during that time, the Financial Institution allegedly received approximately US$600 million in fees and revenues along with increased reputational prestige. At the same time, Ng, Leissner and others allegedly received large bonuses and enhanced their own reputations at the Financial Institution. In total, according to allegations in court filings, more than US$2.7 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB and Low, Ng, Leissner and others conspired to launder this money through the US financial system to pay bribes to foreign officials and for the personal benefit of themselves and their relatives.

Project Magnolia

In early 2012, according to allegations in court filings, following a series of meetings in Malaysia and the United Kingdom, Low, Leissner, Ng and the co-conspirators agreed that, with the assistance of the Financial Institution, 1MDB would issue US$1.75 billion in bonds guaranteed by an entity wholly owned and controlled by the government of Abu Dhabi. Low allegedly explained to Ng, Leissner and others at the time that, to complete the transaction, bribes would need to be paid to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi and, as alleged, hundreds of millions of dollars were actually paid to officials in these countries. Low, Ng, Leissner and other co-conspirators also knew that Low intended to use funds misappropriated from the bond transaction to bribe and influence the officials to obtain the necessary approvals and any additional assistance needed to execute Project Magnolia for the Financial Institution and to pay kickbacks to Ng, Leissner and others.

In or around March 2012, 1MDB allegedly selected the Financial Institution to be the sole bookrunner and arranger for Project Magnolia. As part of the scheme, Low and other co-conspirators enlisted the assistance of 1MDB officials, promising to pay them bribes and kickbacks. In one instance, as alleged in court filings, in connection with Project Magnolia, Low told one 1MDB official that he would "[g]ive [the official a] big present" when the transaction closed. According to allegations in court documents, the fact that bribes and kickbacks were being paid in connection with Project Magnolia was known to Ng, Leissner and other employees of the Financial Institution.

After Project Magnolia closed on or about May 21, 2012, more than US$500 million of the bond proceeds were misappropriated and diverted from 1MDB through numerous wire transfers to bank accounts in the name of shell companies beneficially owned and controlled by Low, Leissner, Ng and other co-conspirators, including a high-level official at the Abu Dhabi entity that guaranteed the Project Magnolia bonds and a close relative of Malaysian Official #1.  As alleged, the bond proceeds transferred to Malaysian Official #1's close relative were later used by the relative's US motion picture company to assist in the production of the film "The Wolf of Wall Street," a movie based on a previous Eastern District of New York prosecution.  

Project Maximus and Project Catalyze

Court filings further allege that from May 2012 and continuing through 2013, Low, Ng, Leissner and their co-conspirators continued to work to ensure that the Financial Institution obtained and retained additional 1MDB business, including the bond transactions known as "Project Maximus" and "Project Catalyze," which transactions generated substantial fees and revenues for the Financial Institution.  As alleged, although both transactions were designed to raise more than US$4 billion for 1MDB's investment and development projects, Low, Ng, Leissner and other co-conspirators allegedly used the transactions to further the criminal scheme, ultimately laundering hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted funds from these transactions into bank accounts beneficially owned and controlled by, among others, the co-conspirators, including Low, Leissner and officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. As alleged in court filings, throughout this time, Ng, Leissner, and at least one other employee of the Financial Institution knew that Low would and did pay bribes to influence officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to obtain the necessary approvals to execute Project Maximus and Project Catalyze. Low, Ng, Leissner and others allegedly knew that large portions of the bond proceeds would be illegally diverted to themselves and others, including to foreign government officials. 

As part of the scheme alleged in court filings, Low, Ng, Leissner and other co-conspirators again used a series of wire transfers to launder billions of dollars of misappropriated and fraudulently diverted funds from Project Maximus and Project Catalyze. As alleged, following the close of Project Maximus, approximately US$790 million of the bond proceeds was transferred through a series of shell company accounts beneficially owned and controlled by Low, Leissner and others, including accounts of officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. In particular, Leissner and Ng caused millions of dollars of these funds to be transferred to accounts of 1MDB officials or relatives of such officials in exchange for their assistance in obtaining and retaining business for the Financial Institution. Over US$35 million of the bond proceeds also allegedly was used by a co-conspirator to help acquire a condominium in New York, New York beneficially owned by Low.

Similarly, according to allegations in court filings, after Project Catalyze closed in March 2013, more than US$1 billion dollars of diverted funds, traceable to the transaction, were laundered, at Low's direction, to bank accounts in the name of entities beneficially owned and controlled by Low, Leissner and others, including 1MDB officials. As alleged, more than US$4 million of the funds were transferred to a bank account beneficially owned by a relative of Ng. Additionally, as part of the scheme, Low used a shell company account to receive more than US$1 billion of the Project Catalyze bond proceeds and spent approximately US$137 million of these funds to purchase works of art at a high-end art auction house in New York, New York.

Post-Catalyze 1MDB transactions at the Financial Institution

The Financial Institution continued to seek business from 1MDB after Project Catalyze. As alleged, Leissner and others were particularly focused on securing a role for the Financial Institution on a proposed initial public offering ("IPO") of 1MDB's energy assets. To influence certain officials to award the Financial Institution a role in the proposed IPO, Low and Leissner allegedly continued to pay bribes to certain officials at 1MDB.

For example, as alleged, in an online chat between Low and Leissner in June 2014, Low and Leissner discussed the need to "suck up to" a 1MDB official and to send "cakes" to a person believed to be the wife of Malaysian Official #1. A few months after this chat, a bank account owned and controlled by Leissner and his relative was used to transfer approximately US$4.1 million to a high-end New York jeweller, in part, to pay for gold jewellery for the wife of Malaysian Official #1.

The charges in the indictment as to Low and Ng are allegations, and those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The investigation was jointly conducted by the FBI's International Corruption Unit and IRS-Criminal Investigation. The government's criminal case is being handled by the Business and Securities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Criminal Division's Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) and Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Jacquelyn M. Kasulis and Drew Rolle and Trial Attorneys Jennifer E. Ambuehl, Woo S. Lee, Mary Ann McCarthy, Katherine A. Nielsen and Nikhila Raj are prosecuting the case. Additional Criminal Division Trial Attorneys and Assistant US Attorneys within US Attorney's Offices for the Eastern District of New York and Central District of California have provided valuable assistance with various aspects of this investigation, including with civil and criminal forfeitures.

The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs provided critical assistance in this case. The Department also appreciates the significant cooperation and assistance provided by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System along with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Department also appreciates the significant assistance provided by the Attorney General's Chambers of Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney General's Chambers of Singapore, the Singapore Police Force-Commercial Affairs Division, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, the Judicial Investigating Authority of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and the Criminal Investigation Department of the Grand-Ducal Police of Luxembourg.

The defendants:

LOW TAEK JHO

Age: 36

NG CHONG HWA

Age: 51

EDNY Docket No. 18-CR-538 (MKB)

TIM LEISSNER

Age: 48

EDNY Docket No. 18-CR-439 (MKB)


BILLION DOLLAR WHALE

Whilst I would not accept everything in it as gospel truth, however, anyone who wants to refresh their memory on the high living and lavish partying  antics of Jho Low, his alleged involvement related to 1MDB, the alleged  involvement of Goldman Sachs bankers, Switzerland's BSI bank and its Singapore subsidiary, the alleged complicity of former Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak, the U.S. DoJ's actions and so forth may want to read the book Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright & Bradley Hope, which I purchased on 20 October 2018 for RM79.90 from MPH Bookstore in the Nu Sentral mall in Kuala Lumpur.

Billion Dollar Whale draws upon multiple sources, such as media reports, official statements, testimonies of various people and so forth over the years leading up to this and will give you a more comprehensive background behind the above actions and charges laid by the DoJ against various individuals mentioned in the articles above, and provides some insight into what this whole 1MDB issue is about.

  

On thing though, in Billion Dollar Whale, Wright and Bradley portray Jho Lo as the main culprit behind the whole issue, whilst Najib, though portrayed as somewhat complicit, appears to have been somewhat of a sucker who was played like a fiddle by Jho Low to serve his (Jho Low's) interests.

In its epilogue, Billion Dollar Whale says that the millions or billions of dollars or ringgit involved in the 1MDB scandal did not come from the Malaysian public purse but from loans from and debts to international banks and financial institutions but that's cold comfort, unless Malaysia can legally get out of having to honour those debts on grounds that they were fraudulent.

Billion Dollar Whale also reveals the complex goings on within the labyrnthine world of global banking and finance, offshore tax havens, in private banking and so forth, as well as how world famous actors, musicians and personalities willingly sell themselves at big fees to be a guest at parties. Welcome to the services economy!

Graduates from the U.K.'s elite public school Harrow ("public school" is the British term for what in reality is an elite private school) , the London School of Economics, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Pennsylvania's business-oriented Wharton School will be honoured to have Jho Low amongst their fellow alumni.

Other notable Wharton alumni include U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. First Lady Ivanka (Trump's wife), Warren Buffet, Elon Musk and many other notable persons. Harrow alumni include several of the U.K.'s prime ministers. 
  
Meanwhile, back in Malaysia, Najib Tun Razak faces a slew of criminal charges, mostly related to alleged money laundering, which have been laid against him by Malaysia's courts, and his trials related to these charges are scheduled to begin from February 2019.

Well, I expect that the series of trials, as well as the appeals which will follow, could well drag on up to and perhaps even beyond Malaysia's next general elections.

Meanwhile, I remain open minded on all this and will wait to see the verdicts of the Malaysian, U.S. and any other nation's courts, if these other nation's courts come forward and lay charges.

Also, Malaysia has to first find Jho Low and extradite him back to Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's government, especially the cabinet ministers must not allow themselves to become too preoccupied and distracted by the 1MDB issue, since there are many more important national issues such as the economy, the high cost of living, employment, industry, education, healthcare, affordable housing, public transit and so forth which they must deal with. 

Yours trully


Politischeiss