Tuesday, April 12, 2016

The Who's Who listed in the Panama Papers.

Some of the most notable names among the individuals and entities are Kamaluddin Abdullah, head of Feldspar Holdings and son of former Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi; Mirzan Mahathir, son of Mahathir Mohamad; and Mohamad Nazifuddin Mohamad Najib, son of the current prime minister, Najib Razak. Mahathir’s brother-in-law, Mohammed Hashim Mohammed Ali, the onetime head of Malaysia’s military.

Others include Sultan Ibrahim Ismail of Johor; Abdul Aziz bin Tawfiq Ayman, husband of Bank Negara Governor Zeti Akhatar Aziz; Muhammad Muhammad Taib, former Rural and Regional Development Minister and UMNO information chief, who since has joined the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat; and Lim Kok Thay, the current managing director of Genting Group; Abdul Halim Harun, former chief executive of UMW Holdings, one of Malaysia’s biggest conglomerates; Sharifuddin Hizan Zainal Abidin, former Group Managing Director of Felda Holdings Bhd; and Khoo Kay Peng, one of Malaysia’s richest tycoons and head of MUI Group.

The list also includes the late Hussain Najadi, the founder of what was first known as Arab Malaysian Bank, later Ambank, who was murdered under mysterious circumstances in 2013 after complaining, his son has charged, about corruption in the United Malays National Organization. Police said he had been killed in a land dispute. The late Tan Tiong Hock, the former Malaysian Chinese Association secretary general, who died in 1985, is also on the list, which can be found here.

The flow of currency into the Panama entities is hardly the only destination for money fleeing Malaysia. As Asia Sentinel reported in 2013, estate agency Jones Lang & Wootton reported that in 2012 Malaysians accounted for 17 percent of all buyers of new top-of-the-line central London dwellings.

In other words almost as many Malaysian are buying as Britons, who themselves accounted for only 19 percent of this market. Identifiable Malaysians figured as buyers of One Hyde Park, the most expensive new building in London overlooking Hyde Park and others probably lie behind the various anonymous offshore companies which figure as owners of most of the owners of apartments ranging in price from US$12 million to US$50 million.

Whether there will be political fallout from the list in Malaysia is another question. The country has been enduring what seems like an endless corruption scandal over the state-backed 1Malaysia Development Bhd. for almost two years, plus an unexplained US$681 million in Najib’s personal accounts that appeared in 2013 before most of it disappeared back out a few months later into the branch of a Swiss bank in Singapore, then vanished for good. So far, the prime minister appears bulletproof. He is likely to remain that way

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