PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Report’s editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown has claimed that Prime Minister Najib Razak had been unable to sue over reports of his alleged involvement in misappropriation of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds because he knew he would lose in any court outside Malaysia.
Speaking to FMT today, Rewcastle alleged that the prime minister would never be able to sway an independent jury against news reports that implicated him in the affairs of 1MDB.
Opposition politicians have clamoured for Najib to file a suit against the Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report after both published reports on a trail of financial transactions leading to a deposit of USD600 million in his personal bank accounts in 2013.
Najib has denied that the money came from 1MDB, a government-owned investment company, and has said it was a personal donation from a member of the Saudi royal family. The Federal Government has said that most of the money had been returned.
The issue has also been covered by the BBC and CNN, Bloomberg and the New York Times amongst others. The Federal Government has maintained that the reports of 1MDB’s involvement were untrue, and has since blocked Internet access to Sarawak Report, Asia Sentinel and The Malaysian Insider for reporting on a criminal charge that had purportedly been prepared against Najib.
Last year, Sarawak Report, Rewcastle, The Malaysian Insider’s publisher and owner, and DAP politician Tony Pua were implicated in negotiations to buy confidential emails and documents stolen by a former executive of a Saudi company associated with 1MDB.
The government has accused Rewcastle and Sarawak Report of being part of a conspiracy to topple Najib and his government, and news reports quoted the executive, Swiss national Xavier Andre Justo, as having alleged that Rewcastle had told him that “bringing down Najib would be payment enough.”
Sarawak Report has quoted extensively from leaked emails and correspondence.
Rewcastle maintained that Sarawak Report articles were correct, and that Najib “has had to admit that he took the money” in the face of the reports. “He first denied it but then admitted he took the money, then he’s come up with all sorts of different excuses as to why he took the money. And finally, he claimed to have given it back,” she said.
“But he’s only doing that because I had exposed, six months ago, that he had paid most of the money back after the election, into another account in Singapore. So (now) he’s going with that. Well there’s not a single jury, or a judge or a panel of judges in the world apart from Malaysia itself which is going to believe any of his nonsense,” she said.
“So he can’t sue, simple as that.”
However, an aide to Najib has recently stated that it would be difficult to proceed with a suit against the Wall Street Journal, whose corporate parent is based in New York, because US law extended First Amendment protections to US companies facing libel suits abroad.
However Rewcastle said that all information seemed to point towards Najib’s guilt. International media had taken a great interest in the case because the Attorney-General, Mohamed Apandi Ali, had declared that there was no criminal wrongdoing on Najib’s part.
“There is so much evidence out there in this particular case of corruption compared to other cases,” Rewcastle said, describing Najib as having been “comprehensively exposed”, adding: “I don’t know at what point Najib is going to wake up to the fact.”
Rewcastle, 55, was born in Sarawak while her British parents were stationed there. She set up Sarawak Report in 2010 and published extensive reports on deforestation in Sarawak and on the financial dealings and fortunes of then chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud. – FMT