Switzerland’s prosecutors are seeking legal assistance from Malaysia after a probe into a government investment fund revealed “serious indications” that about $4 billion may have been misappropriated from state companies in the Southeast Asian nation.
The Swiss Attorney-General’s office said in a statement Friday that during an investigation of 1Malaysia Development Bhd., four cases involving allegations of criminal conduct and occurring between 2009 and 2013 have so far come to light. It has been ascertained a small amount of funds were transferred to Swiss accounts of former Malaysian public officials, according to the statement. The Swiss authority is seeking help from the Malaysian attorney general to determine whether funds were misappropriated.
“The monies believed to have been misappropriated would have been earmarked for investment in economic and social development projects in Malaysia,” the Swiss authority said in the statement. “To date, however, the Malaysian companies concerned have made no comment on the losses they are believed to have incurred. The object of the request for mutual assistance is therefore to advise the companies and the Malaysian government of the results of the Swiss criminal proceedings, with the aim of finding out whether losses on this scale have been sustained.”
1MDB, whose advisory board is headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak, has been the subject of overlapping investigations in Malaysia, as well as overseas jurisdictions including Singapore and Hong Kong amid allegations of financial irregularities.
1MDB said in a statement Saturday that it hasn’t been contacted by any foreign legal authorities on any matters relating to the company.
“1MDB remains committed to fully cooperating with any lawful authority and investigation, subject to advice from the relevant domestic lawful authorities, and in accordance with international protocols governing such matters,” the company said in the statement.
Malaysia will cooperate with its Swiss counterparts and review the findings before determining a course of action, Attorney General Mohamed Apandi Alisaid in a statement Saturday. A spokesman for the Prime Minister’s Office said they won’t be commenting on the matter.
Swiss authorities in August opened criminal proceedings against two executives of 1MDB and what it classified as “persons unknown” on suspicions of bribery of foreign public officials, misconduct in public office, money laundering and criminal mismanagement. The proceedings were based on notifications of suspicious transaction reports by the Swiss financial intelligence unit MROS, the attorney-general’s office said in September.
While the Swiss statement on Friday didn’t identify any individuals, it named companies “in connection” to its investigation of 1MDB. The suspected cases that were discovered were “each involving a systemic course of action carried out by means of complex financial structures,” according to the statement.
Genting Bhd., one of the companies mentioned by the Swiss prosecutor, declined to comment. 1MDB built an energy business by acquiring assets from Genting and Tanjong Plc. Calls after office hours to Tanjong, another company cited in the statement, weren’t answered.
While an initial Malaysian auditor general’s report in July on 1MDB didn’t reveal any suspicious activity, the nation’s central bank had made requests for the attorney general to initiate criminal proceedings against the debt-ridden company. The Malaysian attorney general’s office dismissed the central bank’s requests, which alleged that 1MDB breached the Exchange Control Act.
Separately, the attorney general closed the door on a graft investigation into Najib this month, clearing him of wrongdoing over a “personal contribution” of $681 million from Saudi Arabia’s royal family, and funds from a company linked to 1MDB that appeared in his personal bank accounts. Under Malaysia’s federal constitution, the decision to initiate criminal prosecution lies solely with the attorney general.
Najib has maintained the funds were not used for private benefit, with $620 million later returned to the Saudi donors, although there hasn’t been a clear explanation as to what the rest was spent on or where that money is now. Both the premier and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing.
92.6 Million Nigerians Enrolled For the National Identification Number – NIMC
The Federal Government through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has stated that NIN will be a compulsory requirement for business registration.
The National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has announced that 92.63 million Nigerians have enrolled for the National Identification Number as of November 2022.
This represents an increase of 1.9 million when compared to the 90.68 million recorded in October.
According to the recent data released by NIMC, more men have been captured than women. The data also revealed that men accounted for about 52.1 million people or 56 percent of the total people captured so far in the NIN database.
On the other hand, women represent 40.5 million or 44 percent of the total enrollment, Investors King learnt.
On a state-to-state basis, Lagos State recorded the highest enrollment with about 10.3 million. This was followed by Kano State with more than 8 million people.
Other states with substantial enrollments include Kaduna with 5.4 million, Ogun with 3.8 million, Oyo with 3.6 million, FCT with 3.2 million, Katsina with 3.1 million, Rivers with 2.7 million, Delta with 2.4 million, and Bauchi with 2.4 million.
Meanwhile, Bayelsa is presently the state with the lowest enrollments. A total of 583,323 have so far enrolled in the state. Ebonyi trailed Bayelsa with 744,869 and Ekiti’s record shows 971,712 enrollments. While Cross River, Taraba, Yobe, Enugu, Imo, Akwa Ibom and Zamfara followed with 1 million, 1.3 million, 1.3 million, 1.5 million, Imo 1.5 million, 1.5 million and 1.6 million, respectively.
In another development, the Federal Government through the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has stated that NIN is now a compulsory requirement for business registration like it is with banks.
According to the Registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission, Garba Abubakar, NIN was adopted because its security can’t be compromised, unlike the National Identity card, passport, and driver’s license, which could easily be cloned.
“If you don’t have a NIN, it means you can’t register your company. The essence is to verify the integrity of the data we are collecting,” Garba noted.
National Identification Number is the unique number created by the Nigerian government to identify Nigerians, curb crimes, deepen infrastructure in cities and generally access all citizens.
Governors Forum Replies FG, Blames Poverty on Rising Insecurity
The NGF accused the federal government of being unable to tame rising insecurity which has led to the high costs of food.
The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) has stated that governors could not be blamed for poverty in their respective states. The NGF accused the federal government of being unable to tame rising insecurity which has led to the high costs of food.
Investors King could recall that President Muhammadu Buhari earlier alleged that governors are pocketing funds meant for the development of the local governments.
Similarly, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba, also stated that the 36 governors were responsible for the rising poverty index in the country,
According to the Governors Forum, the rising level of poverty among Nigerians was a consequence of the biting effect of insecurity on commercial and agricultural activities.
A statement released by NGF’s Director of Media and Public Affairs, AbdulRazaque Bello-Barkindo said “It is important to put on record the progress made by state governors in the administration of their states, which have witnessed tremendous progress in recent times. Governors have undertaken projects where they, in conjunction with their people, deem them fit for purpose.
“This dereliction of duty from the centre is the main reason why people have been unable to engage in regular agrarian activity and commerce. Today, rural areas are insecure, markets are unsafe, travel surety is improbable and life for the common people generally is harsh and brutish.”
Barkindo further accused the minister of deviating from the major issues and passing blames when he and his colleague, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, should be implementing policies that can ameliorate the hardship Nigerians were facing.
Barkindo in the statement added that the primary duty of any government is to ensure the security of lives and property, an area he claimed the Federal Government has failed.
“But the Federal Government, which is responsible for the security of lives and property, has been unable to fulfil this covenant with the people, thus allowing bandits, insurgents, and kidnappers to turn the country into a killing field, maiming and abducting people, in schools market squares and even on their farmlands,” he said.
President Buhari Accuses Governors of Stealing LG Funds
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari has once again accused state governors of stealing monthly allocation due to local government under them.
The president spoke at a parley with members of the Senior Executive Course of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.
Speaking at the event, the president stated that it beats anyone’s imagination how some governors collected money on behalf of council areas in their states, only to remit just half of such allocation to the council chairmen, who would further deplete the remittance by filching it. Investors King learnt.
‘‘I found it necessary to digress after reading my speech and this digression is a result of my personal experience. What they did, this is my personal experience, if the money from the Federation Account to the state is about N100m, N50m will be sent to the chairman, but he will sign that he received N100m. The governor will pocket the balance and share it with whoever he wants to share it with,” the president narrated.
‘‘This is what’s happening. This is Nigeria. It’s a terrible thing; you cannot say the person who was doing this is not educated. He was a qualified lawyer, he was experienced, yet he participated in this type of corruption.” he queried.
Furthermore, the president clarified that state governors and local government chairmen should be held responsible for the underdevelopment in the rural areas noting that most of the local governments lack basic amenities.
Similarly, the National Union of Local Government Employees on Thursday backed the position of the president on the embezzlement and mismanagement of local government funds.
Responding to Buhari’s position, the President of the Nigeria Union of Local Government Employees (NULGE), Hakeem Ambali, said Buhari was merely stating the obvious.
The NULGE President nevertheless admonished the president to go beyond the statement and ensure governors, especially those in APC to sign the local government autonomy bill into law.
“He should go beyond that statement. He is the leader of the party, he should ask them to sign the autonomy into law; he is the leader of the governors,’’ he said.
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