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Saturday, 11 July 2015

What if CAGM and WSJ allegations are true? 3 Possibilities

Yesterday. The Malaysian Insider reports that the NGO Citizens For Accountable Governance Malaysia (CAGM)  claims that the USD700 million alleged by Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report to have been transferred into Prime Minister Najib Razak's Ambank private accounts were channelled to Barisan Nasional component parties in the run-up to the 13th general election two years ago, claimed a non-governmental organisation.
"CAGM can confirm, based on court documents in our hands, that millions from Najib’s Ambank accounts were actually used to ‘back up’ Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties in the run-up to the 2013 general elections," CAGM chairman Md Zainal Abidin said in a statement today, offering an explanation as to why so much money had been pumped into Najib’s private Ambank accounts. 
Besides the 13 BN component parties which he claimed were allocated an average of RM30 million to RM50 million each, he said funds were channelled to more than a dozen BN-friendly parties and NGOs, which received between RM1 million and RM8 million each.  
"This system of ‘greasing’ the component parties and election machineries (in some cases, mercenaries) were actually put in place by Dr Mahathir and that has allowed BN to remain in power until now. "So, in essence, Najib was ‘paying’ to a system that was put in motion by Mahathir to ensure the results are in favour of BN." says CAGM

If true, then this could explain the relative ambiguity of Najib's recent statements.
If CAGM's claims are true and Wall Street Journal-Sarawak Report allegations are correct, then this will be a very interesting situation in Malaysia.

Under UMNO's constitution, the party president is allowed to hold funds in trust for the party in his personal name as long as the UMNO Supreme Council agrees.

This means that although the funds are in the PM's personal accounts, the funds do not belong to him. He is not the beneficial owner as the funds are still legally the property of the party.

If beneficial ownership of the funds have not changed and the beneficial owner is still the party, it means that no corruption or songlap had occurred.

The question however, is if there has been such a resolution passed by UMNO's supreme council and whether such large donations were properly reflected in UMNO's accounts.

If there is such breaches, then UMNO could have breached Registrar of Societies Act and could be fined under clause 15(3) of the ROS act which provides for a RM2,000 fine

Worse case is that UMNO Baru gets deregistered - in which case, UMNO will have to either be folded into Barison Nasional itself or they will have to register UMNO Baru Baru.

It looks like PM Najib would be protected as long as the "office bearers" of UMNO backs him up by issuing the appropriate declarations.

This would only be true, however if PM Najib did not receive and use these funds for his "own personal benefit" as he has stated multiple times and can prove that all the donations he had received in trust were indeed all used for the benefit of the party.

Under the ELECTION OFFENCES ACT 1954, these are the limits to campaign spending during an election campaign in Malaysia.

19. (1) Subject to such exception as may be allowed in pursuance of this Act, no sum shall be paid and no expense shall be incurred by a candidate at an election or by his election agent, after the date of publication of the notice of the election in the Gazette, during or after an election, on account of or in respect of the conduct or management of such election, in excess of:
(a) RM200,000 in the case of an election to the Dewan Rakyat (Parliament);
(b) RM100,000 in the case of an election to a Legislative Assembly (DUN); 
(2) Any candidate or election agent who knowingly acts in contravention of this section shall be guilty of an illegal practice.
shall be liable, on conviction :
- to up to 2 years jail or RM5,000 or both
- his or his seat shall be vacated from the date of such conviction:
- prohibited to stand in elections for 5 years from date of conviction

There are 222 Parliament Seats and 505 DUN seats (excluding Sarawak) contested during GE13 and that means a maximum allowable spending of RM94.5 million.

Which means that legally, only RM94.5 million would be the maximum allowable limit to spend on the entire month in the entire country for all 222 Parliament Seats and 505 DUN seats for the entire General Elections 2013.

During GE13, parliament was dissolved on April 3rd and polling date was on May 5th - giving 32 days of of official campaigning period.

RM200k for each parliament seat and RM100k for each DUN seat campaign funding for the entire 32 days is really unrealistic and for some reason, this limits were never updated to take into account current realities.

This RM200k and RM100k limits is supposed to cover everything - including banners, allowances for campaign workers, dinners, lunches, drinks, leaflets etc - or just RM6k for Parliament and RM3k for each DUN for each day of campaigning.

This is highly unrealistic and impractical.

Personally, I think it is time that such limits are updated immediately to reflect the real world and not the world of the 1950s.

Looking at both the BN and the now-rich Pakatan's vigorous campaigning during GE13, I am pretty sure both sides have breached the limits many times over.

Pakatan and DAP is now rich! Nowadays, campaign funds seem unlimited
It is common knowledge that Pakatan parties no longer lose out to BN when it comes to elections campaigning funding
You sure RM200k only to pay for all your many banners, posters and free buses?

PKR and DAP are fortunate that they have had no similar exposes on how much they spent on campaigning too. But they are definitely not shy to spend on elections campaigning in recent years.

RM200,000 limit per Parliament seat and RM100,000 limit per DUN seat for more than a month of campaigning? Really?

The now dead or pengsan Pakatan would also be impacted.

What if WSJ and Sarawak Report's allegations and claims are true?

According to WSJ's allegations, RM2.6 billion have been transferred to accounts in PM Najib's name during Mar 21st and Mar 25th 2013 - coincidentally in time for start of official GE13 campaigning which started on Apr 3rd 2013. After GE13, this account was then closed.

What we do know is that although the accounts are allegedly in Najib's name but these accounts seemed to be managed by other persons.

Under BN and UMNO practise, it is allowed for party funds to be held in trust in the President's name - a practice dating back decades.

PM Najib has already said that he did not benefit personally from any alleged fund transfers. I mean, who would be so stupid to steal money that you already was in an anonymous off-shore account overseas and put it into accounts directly under your name?

Now, if the WSJ allegations are true and such transfers did indeed take place then it is highly likely that such funds could have been used for GE13 campaigning as claimed by CAGM - which would mean breaching EC rules on the limits.

Ever the opportunists, PKR has wasted no time in taking advantage of this WSJ expose and has already filed suit to cancel GE13. - never mind if they themselves, in most probability, may also have flouted the election campaign limits.

Is it possible that Tun Mahathir and his supporters also fell into a trap by Pakatan Rakyat and their foreign collaborators to destroy UMNO and BN?

Could they have been used like tools to hurt their own parties - not knowing what was at stake and what was Pakatan's true plans and objectives?

POSSIBILITY 1: BN used the money
Now, if the WSJ allegations are true and PM Najib comes out to clear his personal name by admitting that these are BN funds held in trust by him and used in campaigning (the spending from this account will be easy to prove), it would mean that the current BN govt could fall immediately and all the winning or losing candidates (including DPM and all current MPs and even those who lost) would go to jail for 2 years and barred from elections for a further 5 years.

Certainly, if the accounts are indeed Najib's then he will definitely have proof of who received the campaign funds and how much each person or groups got.

There could be at least 727 (222 parliament and 505 DUN) people who could be going to jail for up to 2 years - including the DPM, ministers, members of parliaments and losing candidates too - and barred from contesting for a further 5 years.

And the existing BN Federal Govt and all BN-held state governments (except Sarawak as their state elections are at different dates) will fall as we go into re-elections for each parliament and state assembly seats currently held by BN.

However, whilst there is a limit for the contestant in each DUN or Parliament seat, there is no limit to funding by the party of 3rd party NGOs who may be BN friendly. This was clearly pointed out by BERSIH president Maria Chin Abdullah 

While Malaysia has no laws on political funding, Maria said election candidates had to abide by a spending limit when campaigning in elections. No limit is placed, however, on political parties.  
"There is a loophole which the Election Commission should look into as it is part of the excessive political financing by political parties and candidates that's not monitored," Maria said. 
Also, under the current Register of Societies act, the ROS has no power to force political parties to disclose how much funding it receives and whom the donors are - whether foreign or local.

Thus, PM Najib and UMNO can escape this if the funds were directly given to NGOs instead of to the individual contestants themselves.

POSSIBILITY 2: Najib took the money for himself
But if the allegations are true and PM Najib wanted to save UMNO, BN and the current Govt, he will have to admit that these alleged funds are for his personal use - but then he would go to jail for many years with his and his dad's reputation tarnished forever.

Do you think he will do this - especially since he was not him only who spent the money on campaigning but the entire BN - Deputy Prime Minister, all Ministers, all MPs, all losing candidates and all the NGOs ?

If he did this, it would be most unfair on PM Najib.

What a choice to make!  Someone has been very cruel!

If the allegations are true, then it would appear that the anti-Najib factions in UMNO who collaborated with foreign forces and opposition media and helped with the WSJ and Sarawak Report expose would indeed have accidentally or deliberately condemned UMNO and BN or at least put the entire UMNO and BN in a very difficult position.

Such is the desperation, the hatred, anger and the greed for power that exists in politicians in a hurry - whether those who will benefit from a vacancy in top leadership or those already retired.

Shooting one-self - either deliberately or tricked into doing it.
What an interesting scenario. How are they going to get out of this tight spot?

POSSIBILITY 3: Allegations are not true
Of course, the best case scenario for Najib, UMNO and BN is that the WSJ allegations are not true at all - if so, this can be proven by the Joint-Panel set-up by the Attorney General, MACC, BNM and PDRM during their current investigation which seems to be in full swing.

Again, the most damaging allegation is if 1MDB money was the source of the USD700m (RM2.6 billion) via the USD3 billion GIL bond raising that was meant to be a Joint-venture with Abu Dhabi's government.

In my opinion, this is unlikely since none of the audit reports so far including the preliminary AG Report given last week have flagged that such money was missing and the PAC have never raised such a concern. This part would be easily disputed if Abu Dhabi govt speaks out that the funds are with them or the fund managers show proof that the money never left their accounts.

You must also remember that UMNO has always been alleged to be a rich party that used to own and still own many listed companies. And there will also be no lack of corporates and tycoons in Malaysia who would be also be contributing election funds - thus RM2.6 billion is definitely within reach.

Again, the source of funds will probably be confirmed by the joint task-force investigations.

What if  WSJ allegations are true then what will you do?

Now the question is whether WSJ/Sarawak Report's allegations of USD700m (RM2.1b) was actually transferred into Najb's account just before GE13 is true and whether  CAGM's claim that the money was spent on BN's campaigning is true.

However, the real dilemma ts the USAGE of the funds - who received the funds from Najib's alleged Ambank accounts and how much - and will they also be going to jail?

I don't know about you but if all the above claims are true, then I am looking forward to the next exciting episode as it really seems to be a tight spot for Najib and BN.

What would you do, if you were PM Najib assuming that both allegations are correct?

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