Get international auditors to do forensic check on 1MDB, says Hishammuddin

KUALA LUMPUR (May 9): 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) should appoint an international, independent auditing firm to examine its accounts, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (pictured) said today, adding that this would help dispel public concerns over the debt-ridden state investment firm.

The Umno vice-president became the latest party leader to weigh in on the fund that has seen critical statements from other leaders since the news broke that Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH) had bought land from 1MDB when it was known that the strategic development fund was in massive debt.

Hishammuddin said the government could not stay quiet, adding that he, too, was concerned over reports that it had entered into a deal with Tabung Haji, a savings fund for Muslim pilgrims to perform the haj in Mecca.

“To preserve the reputation of this investment firm and answer the public’s questions, I suggest that the 1MDB board of directors appoint another international firm that is independent to examine, verify and reveal to the public all its assets, liabilities as well as the status of its investment portfolio and cash flow.

“This auditing firm must also carry out a forensic audit on all of 1MDB’s transactions since its formation, to help 1MDB answer all the issues raised,” said Hishammuddin in a statement today.

He said the public should not have to wait for the National Audit Department to complete its probe on 1MDB before getting answers, and urged the Auditor-General to prepare a report on 1MDB immediately to submit to the Public Accounts Committee.

“1MDB has become a hot issue that Malaysians are now focusing on. Hence, in my view, the government should answer the questions raised to remove negative perceptions surrounding this investment firm.

“As a minister and Umno vice-president, I firmly maintain my previous stance that if there is any wrongdoing in the 1MDB issue, legal action must be taken immediately.”

Hishammuddin added that the government should make it a priority to protect TH contributors and the institution itself, after it was revealed that the pilgrim fund had bought a parcel of land from 1MDB’s Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) project for RM188.5 million last month.

“I am confident, the board members of the Lembaga Tabung Haji took into account the business risks and are working to ensure that the interests of its contributors are protected at all times.

“However, we must immediately get rid of this negative perception and suspicions among the market and society that the sale of the 1MDB land was a result of the financial burdens that the investment firm is facing," said the defence minister.

In a separate press conference today, Tabung Haji chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim said it had decided to sell the land it bought from 1MDB last month.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had advised him to dispose of the land so that the fund’s reputation was not tarnished due to its business transaction with 1MDB.

Pressure has been mounting on Najib after several Umno leaders voiced their dissatisfaction over the Tabung Haji-1MDB deal.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin warned that the 1MDB issue was so serious that it might explode on Umno.

He told reporters following him on a working visit to Milan, Italy, that 1MDB was the biggest factor that led to Barisan Nasional's (BN) loss in the Permatang Pauh by-election yesterday.

The Umno deputy president admitted that he was not even able to explain the scandal when campaigning because, "I don't even know what to say".

"The rakyat wants to know, not just Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. The rakyat wants to know why no one has been charged, why the 1MDB board has not been sacked, and about the position of the CEO and the prime minister as adviser.”

He said the situation was toxic and might have a huge adverse impact not just on the people, but Umno as well.

Related stories from The Malaysian Insider:

Muslim group calls for Tabung Haji heads to roll
For the full story, click here.

Sorry Mr Chairman, Johan is conflicted, and it’s best you call off the purchase and get your money back from 1MDB
For the full story, click here.
Ahead of Najib visit, Sabah Speaker defends Tabung Haji from bailout claims, points to Dr M
For the full story, click here.
Bukit Aman to probe reports against Tabung Haji, says KL police chief
For the full story, click here.
Singer Siti Nurhaliza unhappy over Tabung Haji-1MDB land deal
For the full story, click here.




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