30 April 2018
A London High Court Judge today set a provisional date for a full trial of Hadi Awang’s case against Sarawak Report for ten days lasting from 1st-12 April 2019.
Justice Dingemans said that he felt there were many inter-related and over-lapping issues, including the public interest surrounding the articles written by Sarawak Report and Sarawak Report’s rights to report on political matter, that would inevitably impinge on the issue of whether or not Hadi had grounds to bring the case in the first place.
Political parties cannot sue in the UK and Sarawak Report had petitioned for a quick preliminary trial to determine whether it was really Hadi or PAS who was behind the case to silence Sarawak Report on the issue of money flowing from UMNO into the politicial party.
This would have speeded up and simplified the process, possibly ending it within a matter of a few short weeks and cutting down the expense of the trial by several million ringgit (the cost of libel trials in the UK is high).
However, Hadi had resisted the speedy resolution and the judge agreed that Sarawak Report’s counter-claim for harassment and defamation also complicated matters and he said he felt that there were many aspects to the matter which would in the end make it easier to reach a judgement if all the issues were before the court at the same time.
This includes Sarawak Report’s ‘stay application’ to halt Hadi’s claim on the basis of abuses by parties linked to the plaintiff and also threats to witnesses in Malaysia.
The half day hearing related to this one procedural application only by Sarawak Report. Claims being promulgated by PAS, alleging that there were ‘5 applications defeated‘ and even the astounding allegation that Hadi has ‘won the case’ are false.
In the light of new strengthened evidence that has emerged, in particular a recording believed to be of PAS leader Nik Abduh admitting to receiving money from UMNO and admitting ‘everyone’ senior in the party has also taken money for ‘Islamic purposes’, Sarawak Report had already withdrawn its original application relating to its so-called ‘truth defence’.
Justice Dingemans asked if Sarawak Report plans to bring back a revised and strengthened ‘truth defence’ and Sarawak Report’s lawyers confirmed they will be doing so and that scientific evidence is currently being finalised, determining the authenticity of the recording. That issue was accepted by the court.
The judge also noted that Sarawak Report will also now return to raise the issues in its earlier ‘stay application’, which were also previously suspended for the purposes of today’s single application to narrow down the trial to a preliminary determination on whether Hadi could claim his own reputation had been implicated.
Sarawak Report had already agreed to cover any costs involved in revising and stregthening those core defences. Hadi’s lawyers attempted to claim £69,000 for the inconveniences incurred, which the Judge ruled as being extraordinarily high. He slashed the demand to £40,000.
During the procedings Justice Dingemans demanded that Hadi’s lawyers inform the court what their total bills have amounted to so far in this case – the sums that Hadi/PAS will have already paid. Carter Ruck’s barrister admitted these stand at £305,250 to date, meaning that Hadi has paid out RM1,646,434 ringgit, before the pre-trial work even gets going.
Sarawak Report’s costs have been £200,000. Hadi claimed yesterday that ‘wealthy members of PAS’ are funding his case, for which he has hired one of London’s most expensive legal firms. Sarawak Report has been backed by well-wishers, who have contributed to a crowd funding exercise to support freedom of reporting.
The judge demanded both sides to participate in a case management exercise to ensure that the case now moves on towards a full trial. The next stages will involve extensive disclosure by both sides.
There was no comment whatsoever by the judge on the merits of the case on either side during what was merely a procedural hearing. If supporters of PAS are claiming that ‘Hadi has won’ any aspect of the case, their leader needs to understand that the fun has only just begun.
So far, he has won nothing except a guaranteed full trial that will examine every detail of PAS’s relationship with UMNO between now and April next year.
Monday, April 30, 2018
Saturday, April 28, 2018
28 April 2018
Sarawak Report has been passed secret documents, including a 209 page due diligence report prepared by the global accountancy group KPMG, which warned Felda Global Ventures (FGV) of numerous risks involved in the purchase of a 37% share in the Indonesian palm oil plantation company Eagle High, controlled by an associate of Prime Minister Najib Razak, Peter Sondakh.
The report, dated 31st July 2015 and named ‘Project Sunshine’, details several concerns about the then proposed US$680 million investment, warning that not only was the deal grossly over-priced (70% higher than the shares were worth) at the expense of FELDA shareholders, but that there were enormous liabilities that could eventually costs those shareholders dear if they took on the responsibility of ownership.
A three page digest of that document, summarising the “Analysts’ mains concerns regarding the transaction” was then drawn up to brief Najib as the Minister of Finance in November 2015. FGV had sought to answer each concern as if it could be overcome.
The documents detailed the danger points, including unpaid tax and potential massive liabilities over further tax avoidance by the company; the outrageous over-valuation on the deal (in comparison with the share price for the plantation) and also evidence that the company had hugely exaggerated the area of remaining land it had permission left to plant.
Eagle High, explained KGMG analysts, would be unlikely to complete the process for getting planting permission for 260 thousand hectares, comprising 60% of its total landbank, where it only had temporary licences to apply to plant.
This was particularly so, because the palm oil business has rightly come under increased international and consumer pressure to halt further forest clearances. Indeed, a related problem in taking over such a large percentage of the Eagle High plantation business was that it could lose FELDA itself a large proportion of its international customers, given that Eagle High is not RSPO (Round Table on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified and has been cited over numerous compliance violations.
In short, the warning given by KPMG was that the purchase of this over-priced concern could contaminate the whole of the Malaysian farming cooperative’s wider business. KPMG listed the risks involved:
Nevertheless, when FGV subsequently pulled out of the deal on 23rd December 2016 FELDA itself moved in to take over the bid the very next day, thanks to a Malaysian Government borrowing guarantee, provided by Najib in his capacity as Minister of Finance.
Neither was Najib deterred by the fact that the FELDA entity used to invest in the plantation was none other than Felda Investment Corporation (FIC), which was specifically set up to invest in businesses that diversified from palm oil, making for a direct conflict with the core objectives of the fund.
An insider on the deal has told Sarawak Report “The reason [for the switch] was that FGV is under Stock Exchange scrutiny but there is no scrutiny of FELDA under MOF”.
The final price on the deal was a reduced for US$505.4mil (RM2.26bil), yet that half billion dollars still represented a huge premium – 50% over what the stock market price indicated the 37% (non-controlling) share of the company was worth.
That represented a huge pay day for Najib’s close business partner, Peter Sondakh (until then believed to be on the brink of a financial collapse) apparently at the expense of Malaysia’s small-time FELDA farmers.
Welcome To Our Dreadful Debts!
The KPMG due diligence report had also pointed out amongst its major concerns and warnings that Sondakh had been borrowing from Eagle High into his other related concerns to the tune of US$40 million and that the borrowing had not been paid back.
Having looked at the documents Najib could hardly have failed to have been aware of that burden he was placing on the farmers he had just forced to invest in the toxic Indonesian investment.
Moreover, Eagle High itself is in hock to a troubling extent to a number of banking lenders to the tune of a horrifying US$634 million – more than a hundred million dollars over what FELDA just paid for its non-controlling share of the action. In 2015 KPMG had noted that over half of that was due for repayment within two years, at a time when the revenues of the group had started ‘flat lining’ in an alarming fashion:
Critics in the oil palm world have long pointed out another problem with Eagle High, which is that Peter Sondakh has a questionable record with the tax authorities. KPMG had highlighted the potential for this to result in severe fines, were the company to be ruled against in any eventual prosecutions.
In fact, the auditors noted, Eagle High had been failing to pay its tax bills in the period preceding its investigation, a red flag surely on the financial state of such a major company:
FELDA farmers, already aware of the catastrophic loses suffered by their once wealthy cooperative venture (set up to secure their futures by the former PM and present opposition leader Dr Mahathir) can only be left wondering why on earth Najib has proved so doggedly determined to buy this dodgy and hugely over-priced venture, owned by his own associate?
Sarawak Report, so far, is unable to produce the answer.
Friday, April 27, 2018
27 April 2018
In February Sarawak Report released details of a trove of documents, obtained from well-placed sources by an Australian-based blogger, which pointed to an alleged multi-billion ringgit money laundering exercise, involving cash from public funds controlled by the Ministry of Finance.
One of the funds targeted in a series of schemes, according to the documents, was the Employee Provident Fund (EPF). The Integrated Medical Cities project, targeted at a RM47 billion investment was one.
From a period starting in 2015, bonds owned by EPF were allegedly proferred as collateral to raise money for this supposed medical project to a financial firm based in Luxembourg and the United States, named Limage Holdings S.A.
Limage is owned by a convicted Hungarian financial fraudster named Georgy Matrai, who resides in Danville California.
EPF has categorically denied that the RM10.64 billion worth of bonds in question were utilised in this way to raise some $4 billion, as indicated by the extensive documentation viewed by Sarawak Report. In a statement to Sarawak Report it has claimed that the documents, which include a notarised indemnity to Limage allegedly signed by an EPF senior manager, are fraudulent and forged.
On the other hand, the fund has in the process of its various denials confirmed that the bonds referred to are indeed genuinely controlled by EPF (something that was not possible to know from public records).
Beyond this, EPF has categorically denied that it has been in any way involved in funding a RM47 billion Ministry of Health backed project to build no less than 15 so-called Integrated Medical Cities across Malaysia. “As a matter of clarification, there has never been any “KWSP Medical Cities Project”, EPF/KWSP’s Corporate Affairs reiterated in an email to Sarawak Report last month.
Likewise, RHB Bank, which documents also suggest had opened an account on behalf of a company named TJJR Diversified Sdn Bhd, described as EPF’s proxy in the project, has also denied any involvement.
The bank has rejected information passed to Sarawak Report, which was that the project and related accounts were designed to provide a cover for the importation back into Malaysia of up to US$4 billion raised from the collateralised bonds for Najib to fund BN’s election expenditures.
Yet, despite these denials, in the past days Sarawak Report has identified and spoken to yet another respectable international witness, who has acknowledged that they knew about the supposedly Malaysian Government backed Medical Cities project and were asked if they were willing to give professional support to the purported project.
Why Are So Many Reputable Third Parties Contradicting EPF?
Sarawak Report has already publicised that several Australian witnesses have also confirmed that, despite the blanket denials, EPF officials were indeed discussing a number of billion dollar finance schemes with a Singapore company named Ladylaw Securities, also set up by a known fraudster – a UK national named Dr George Miller (now deceased).
Miller’s successor at Ladylaw, the Australian Nic Manikis, has acknowledged that several of the documents relating to EPF negotiations with Ladylaw from the dossier made available to Sarawak Report are genuine, even though EPF has denied the existance of any such negotiations and implied this matter is also part of an apparently extensive and elaborate fraud lasting several years.
Manikis and his lawyers along with professional land agents have all testified to the dealings between EPF and Ladylaw and to the genuine nature of those particular documents.
Moreover, Manikis has also confirmed that he personally visited EPF when he took over the company and discussed investments with General Manager Ja’afar bin Rihan, together with the Director of TJJR Diversified Sdn Bhd, Junaidah binti Hussin, who was introduced as EPF’s partner on any potential deals.
EPF Executives ‘Raised Medical City Project With Ladylaw’
Particularly significant is the fact that Nic Manikis has also confirmed that Ja’afar bin Rihan and ‘June Aida Hussin’ also raised and discussed with him their proposal for the Integrated Medical Cities Project during early 2017, as a way that money could be invested by EPF through his company. Manikis says he made clear at the time that he was not confident that his company would be suited to such a form of investment project and that negotiations with EPF then dried up.
All this EPF has denied and the fund has also denied any involvement with the Ministry of Health over the matter. The rebuttal implies that pages of presentations allegedly prepared by TJJR Diversified and related companies are also fakes and forged.
These would include a lengthy presentation produced in 2017 by a Malaysian subsidiary (Diver Module Sdn Bhd) of a Panama company named Grupo Diversica, which details proposals for building the cities, which are described in memos as being financed by EPF and supported by the Ministry of Health.
Spanish Architects Confirm They Were Approached By Agents For the ‘Government of Malaysia’
However, despite the denials, Sarawak Report has established that companies featured in these supposedly fraudulent presentations were indeed approached last year about the alleged Integrated Medical Cities project.
A number of specialists in the financing and architecture of hospitals, based mainly in Barcelona, feature in the proposals as experts brought in by Grupo Diversica. Sarawak Report has been told the purpose was to provide a convincing semblance of a mega-project, in order to warrant the importation of large amounts of cash back into Malaysia.
One of the featured entities, an established firm of architects named FiP Arquitectes SLP, has acknowledged its involvement. Speaking to Sarawak Report on Wednesday, a partner in the firm, Isabele Pasqual Pellicer, confirmed that an agent in Spain had been in contact with her firm about the project last year.
Speaking in Spanish, she explained she had indeed received outline details of a ‘Masterplan’, sponsored by the ‘Government of Malaysia. There were to be several of these medical complexes, as she understood, and it represented an enormous investment and a possibly very big project for her company.
However, after receiving just a one page initial proposal, she then heard nothing more about it.
Pelicer explained. She did not wish to name the agents who had been in touch over the project and she said she had not heard of the ultimate company purportedly behind the project, Grupo Diversica in Panama. Sarawak Report believes that the hospital concerned is El Consorci Sanitari de Terrassa, from where several employees are featured in the allegedly bogus project.
Sarawak Report has yet to track down those further experts in finance and hospital management who are cited in the report and the owner of Grupo Diversica has yet to return messages asking for comment.
However, the confirmation that companies in Spain have been approached to become engaged in Malaysia’s phantom Integrated Medical Cities project as late as last year, throws further doubt over attempts to dismiss the matter as a mere elaborate forgery and hoax.
Sarawak Report suggests that EPF and RHB ought to be actively progressing its investigations into the apparent fraud and why there are such an elaborate series of claims backed by documents which indicate that money may have been indirectly raised at the fund’s potential expense.
Certainly, as unexplained cash once agains pours into BN’s election campaign, Malaysians need to consider where it has come from, if the allegations that there was no such bogus mega-project devised.
Perhaps, the Prime Minister has struck lucky with a second Arab prince?'Non-Existent' Medical Cities Projects by EPF. Now EPF, Najib and the govt should or MUST sue Sarawak Report for libel or Malaysians will assume all this is TRUE.. If true then there goes the people EPF funds and savings.
Muslim Extremists Murder 39 Christians in Benue State, Nigeria
Thursday, April 26, 2018
26 April 2018
The list of outrageous, arbitrary last-minute rules, designed to nobble the opposition has been growing by the hour.
Having banned all pictures of the opposition leaders from being shown at this election, Najib is now moving all out to prevent key figures like Dr Mahathir from campaiging. The attempt comes in a sudden police order that only candidates will be allowed to hold ceramah’s within their own consituencies and they will need to give the police ten days notice.
Do the maths. There are only 11 days of campaigning after candidates are announced. If outside speakers are not allowed to hold rallies, then presumably this will be used by police officers under Najib’s orders to shut down other rallies.
The man is plainly desperate.
Next take a look at the evolving landscape on whether or not there will be external observers in these elections, something that has been called for for months and years and that needed to have been organised well over six months before any likely election was to take place.
Malaysia has been resisting observers. However, chastened by admonishments by other countries, including the UK as reported by this outlet last week, the Foreign Minister has suddenly been bobbing up with announcements to say he has made offers for observers after all.
Heavily critical of Sarawak Report for ‘misleading’ the public on a series of news developments (all of which he at the same time admitted were true) Anifah Aman then announced that the Election Commission has just issued offers to 14 countries to send observers.
Staggeringly, the vast majority of those countries are classed as Authoritarian or Hybrid (pretty much authoritarian) regimes on the Economist Democracy Index and other similar respected lists. They include Muslim-bashing Myanmar, Azerbaijan, the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand!
The Electoral Commission has followed up that bombshell by at the same time informing Malaysia’s own respected Human Rights Commission, SUHAKAM, that (unlike the representatives from these authoritarian and corrupted countries) its own personnel would be banned from the polling booths.
Yet, attempts are clearly being made to attempt to deceive Malaysians that respected observers have also been invited to join the monitoring of this controversial election.
Also tagged onto the list provided by the Foreign Minister are a series of what to the untrained eye appear to be the sorts of countries Malaysians might welcome as fellow democracies, who might ensure fair play or at least a fair analysis of events. Australia, Canada and India have also been invited – as well as an organisation called the ‘Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre (MCSC) of Trinity College, Cambridge’.
However, as Anifah Aman plainly knows, but presumably hopes most Malaysians do not, Australia, Canada and India, being members of the Commonwealth do not in fact directly send Election Observers, but perform this function through the Commonwealth as a whole. So, even if they wanted to these countries are not in a position to respond to the Election Commission’s last minute and impractical request.
Glaringly, the Commonwealth Secretariat, which runs the Commonwealth Observers Group that could organise monitoring on behalf of these countries for Malaysia, is not included in the list of entities that Anifah Aman published on his relevant Facebook posting (largely dedicated to moaning at Sarawak Report for breaking the story that Malaysia has been passed over as head of CHOGM 2020).
Indeed, to have approached the Commonwealth for monitoring support, Malaysia would have needed to notify the Secretariat at least six months previously (something NGOs and many opposition figures were begging it to do). However, Malaysia has in fact not approached the Commonwealth for this reassuring support since way back in 1990, which was the last election when Observers were sent.
Instead, with a clumsy attempt at sleight of hand, Anifah Aman says he has enlisted the ‘Malaysian Commonwealth Studies Centre (MCSC) of Trinity College, Cambridge’ to the task. As with a BN politicians’ bogus degree, Malaysians are presumably supposed to read the words ‘Commonwealth’ and ‘Trinity College Cambridge’ and be impressed.
Yet, it hasn’t taken long to flush out the bogus credentials of this organisation, in terms of on the ground election monitoring or, indeed, objectivity when it comes to the Malaysian Government and its present leader.
For a start, attempts to contact, email or identify any premises for this organisation have proved hopeless. It doesn’t have staff or offices that are manned, reports the UK wing of Global Bersih, which has given up trying to track anyone down from MCSC – so what hope of manpower to supervise an election at short notice one wonders?
It gets worse. A flurry of high-brow research on the part of Malaysian academics who prefer to remain nameless has soon produced a horrifying story of conflict of interest in the matter of MCSC relating to the Malaysian election.
To cut a long story short, MCSC (which primarily exists to conduct a respectable annual Conference on Electoral Democracy in Cambridge each year) is funded by another UK registered charity called the Cambridge Malaysian Education and Development Trust (CMEDT), which in turn is funded wholly by the Malaysian Government.
The Directors of MCSC have also doubled up as Directors of CMEDT, the academic researchers have observed, saying that this is clearly noted in minutes they have obtained from the University of Cambridge Council Finance Committee 11th January 2012.
One of the Trustees of CMEDT is none other than Prime Minister Najib Razak, currently running for office in the elections that he has drafted in the off-shoot MCSC to ‘observe’. Also, as both PM and FM, Najib has, of course, funded the body and supervised appointments for years. Also on the Executive Board of Trustees is Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid a former Chief Secretary to the Malaysian Government.
CMEDT’s 2017 Financial Disclosure, points out Sarawak Report’s academic sources, specifically acknowledges that the approval for the Malaysian Government funds to CMEDT amounting to £3 million (around RM20 million) were approved by none other than Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. As one exasperated Malaysian academic told Sarawak Report:
Yes, we got it!
Najib’s latest sham is therefore already exposed and Sarawak Report looks forward to reading Anifah Aman’s next angry ripost and claims on his Facebook pages.
Meanwhile, plenty of informal but extremely effective monitoring is already underway, thanks to the independent network of self-selected volunteers down on the ground in Malaysia itself.
GE14 has not become known as the ‘Whatsapp Election’ for nothing and ordinary folk have started to take it upon themselves to record BN gatherings up and down the country, where candidates have already started handing out packets of cash.
Malaysians are welcome to come to their own conclusions as to whether this extraordinary trove of BN cash has yet again been obtained by robbing public funds once more or thanks once again to the inexplicable generosity of a mystery Middle Eastern royal prince, who thinks higly of Najib.
Sarawak Report suggests that the next Najib ban we ought expect will be against the use of mobile phones within a ten mile radius of polling booths on election day, within BN ceramahs or within sight of BN candidates!This is TOO MUCH! Let us M'sians VOTE Umno/BN out of power ONCE FOR ALL!!!!
DRINKING SMALL AMOUNTS OF BAKING SODA MAY COMBAT AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE, STUDY SUGGESTS
Wednesday, April 25, 2018
25 April 2018
Every time that Najib Razak has abused his powers to try and skew this election further in his own favour, he has revealed how lacking in confidence he is that he can win a fair election and also what he feels are his weakest points.
The latest jaw-dropping move from the Election Commission has been to draw up last minute changes to the rules, even after the election was called, that prevents the opposition’s popular prime ministerial candidates from election posters. No reason given for this change of rules.
So, now we know that Najib fears that his face cannot compete with the famous figures of the opposition. Therefore, he has organised for them to be banned from the public eye.
From henceforth, only Najib is to be allowed to appear, grinning like some Central Asian dictator from the billboards.
It tells everyone two key things: firstly, that Najib is terrified that he cannot compete in the popularity stakes, so feels that if he can at least blank out the other figures people might be confused or less inspired to vote for the opposition.
Secondly, people now know that Najib, were he to win, will waste no time at all in making himself into a replica of the sort of dictators, whose tactics he has been increasingly employing over the past several months. There will be a ban on posters and statues featuring anyone but the ‘Great Dear Leader Najib’.
Wait for the law that abolishes the next election until further notice. After all, this man is far too insecure (given his long list of crimes) to ever put himself back in a position where power could be transferred.
It has yet to be determined to what extent this and the other outrageous abuses of recent weeks will backfire, as people inevitably lose respect over such behaviour. Or whether Najib can combine the cheating and bullying with the handing round of the people’s own stolen money to bulldoze through his desperate determination not to lose.
Najib has been able to fix things all his life, thanks to the positions he inherited owing to his father and thanks to UMNO. He has got out of numerous scrapes, simply by using his connections, abusing his positions and dishing out cash (stolen from the public).
Therefore, since the thought of Mahathir and Anwar’s famous faces challenging him from the billboards has plainly keept him awake at night, his reaction is naturally to order for the problem to be sorted out.
Does he think voters will be impressed by his obvious fear of a fair fight? Time will soon tell.This EC chief is going out of his way to accommodate Najib. Doing all these evil - redelineation, gerrymandering, etc, and now this. Does this man have no FEAR of God! He has taken the oah of office to carry out his duties professionally, fairly, with integrity before the king, and now he does the opposite. Is he treating with contempt what he said before the Agung? Sedition? Let's see how much more evil he does before he is judged.
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