1MDB: Malaysia Puts Out Warrant For Editor’s Arrest

By Nani Yusof
2015.08.04
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150804-MY-protestor-620 Police detain a man during a protest against Prime Minister Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur, Aug. 1, 2015.
AFP

Malaysian authorities are seeking the arrest of a Britain-based editor whose website was among the first to report an alleged transfer of nearly U.S. $700 million from a troubled state fund into bank accounts owned by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

“We have successfully obtained a warrant of arrest from the Kuala Lumpur court against Clare Rewcastle Brown, founder and editor of the Sarawak Report, for offenses under Section 124(B) and 124(I) of the Penal Code,” Mohmad Bin Salleh, director of the Royal Malaysia Police’s Crime Investigation Department (CID), said in a statement.

The two clauses pertain to “activity detrimental to parliamentary democracy” and “dissemination of false reports” and carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison.

Malaysia will ask Interpol and its Southeast Asian equivalent, ASEANAPOL, to place her name on international lists of wanted criminals, Mohmad said.

‘Detrimental to democracy’

The Sarawak Report, an investigative website launched in 2010, has published numerous articles on the troubled 1MDB fund, corruption, and environmental degradation in Sarawak, in East Malaysia.

Rewcastle Brown called the arrest warrant the “latest move by the Malaysian authorities” to have her extradited to Malaysia.

“My action has been to publish information, which some in power do not like. Yet, the ‘crime’ they are accusing me of is of ‘an activity detrimental to democracy,’” she added.

“It is they who are being detrimental to democracy by suppressing free speech and arresting people for questioning people in authority.”

The warrant came a day after the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission announced that the funds in question were not from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund.

“Results of an investigation reveal that RM 2.6 billion allegedly placed in an account belonging to Prime Minister Najib Razak are donor contributions, and not from the 1MDB,” it said in a statement.

Asked if she believed this assertion, Rewcastle Brown said, “I don’t come to any conclusions about things without testing the evidence.”

“So, like everyone else I would like to know who passed such a world-beating donation personally to Najib, why they did and how the money was spent?” she told BenarNews in an email.

Sacked

On July 2, the Sarawak Report and the U.S.-based Wall Street Journal published reports alleging that nearly U.S. $700 million originating from the deeply indebted 1MDB fund had been deposited into Najib’s private bank accounts.

The prime minister called the reports “part of a concerted campaign of political sabotage to topple a democratically elected Prime Minister” and said he had “never taken funds for personal gain.”

His government has since blocked Malaysians from accessing the Sarawak Report via internet servers inside the country – although it can still be viewed from abroad.

Last Thursday, the Sarawak Report published an article alleging that former Malaysian Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail was on the verge of filing corruption charges against the prime minister when he was sacked.

Both Abdul Gani – who was leading an investigation into the 1MDB scandal – and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin – who had publically criticized Najib over the 1MDB-related allegations – lost their jobs as part of a major cabinet reshuffle on July 28.

Hata Wahari contributed to this report.

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