The person identified was business-man Haris Hussein – the brother of Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein and cousin of Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak.
Gurdial Singh Nijar, The Sun Daily
YET again a scandal has emerged involving Malaysian officials. Implicated in receiving bribes from two companies owned by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA), Securency and Note Printing Australia, to win contracts to print the RM5 note with polymer plastic coating.
This newspaper reported the story on July 30, 2014. But it soon disappeared from public view as an Australian court made “unprecedented” suppression orders preventing further reporting of the case – to keep secret the identity of “certain foreign dignitaries or their relatives who are alleged to be linked to Securency to prevent damage to Australia’s international relations that may be caused by the publication.” Even the existence of the suppression orders were also not to be published. So no aspects of the case could be revealed.
Finally, after almost a decade, the case was wrapped up last week, with the conviction of a former senior NPA executive Christian Boillot. He pleaded guilty to the charge of conspiracy to bribe officials in Malaysia and will be sentenced on Dec 6, 2018. With the suppression orders lifted, the story can now be told.
The scandal dates back to 2004. The Melbourne-based Age newspaper broke the story in May 2009. It disclosed that the Reserve Bank of Australia’s currency firm, Securency, had hired a company owned by a “close relative” of Malaysia’s top leaders to help win banknote contracts.
The person identified was business-man Haris Hussein – the brother of Datuk Hishammuddin Hussein and cousin of Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak. “Securency hired Haris in the hope he would offer it access to, and influence over, Malaysia’s top politicians”, quoted the Age.
After this expose, Haris sold his stake in the company, Liberal Technology, on Sept 4, 2006.
The Age conceded that Securency “has not won any banknote contracts in Malaysia since its last major one in 2004 and added that it was not suggesting that Najib or Hishammuddin were involved with Securency’s deals.”
In a sworn court statement, the former financial controller of Note Printing Australia (NPA), deposed that the quotation to Bank Negara Malaysia for the cost of printing the notes was revised upwards to include substantial commission payments to a director of Aksavest Sdn Bhd, which acted as a conduit between RBA and Bank Negara Malaysia.
The director’s request for part of the money to be deposited in his child’s account in Queensland was refused by NPA. The deposition noted that the director was “sacked” as an agent after allegations of corrupt deals emerged in the media in 2007 but nonetheless continued to receive payments for his services.
The MACC got into the act. The director, Abdul Kayoum, was charged in Kuala Lumpur in 2011 with two counts of giving RM50,000 bribes in 2004 and 2005 to former Bank Negara assistant governor Datuk Mohamad Daud Dol Moin to procure a contract to print the notes.
Mohamad Daud was also charged with receiving the bribe. Our courts acquitted them both.
The courts in other jurisdictions were not so forgiving. The two Reserve Bank of Australia companies pleaded guilty to bribing overseas officials in Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia to win bank note printing contracts. An Australian court hit them with a record “proceeds of crime” penalty of A$21.6 million in 2012.
In October 2017, the former CEO of Securency, Miles Curtis, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months’ imprisonment for a false accounting charge relating to a payment to Securency’s Malaysian sales agent; and two years and six months for a single “rolled up” charge of conspiracy to bribe in connection with public officials in both Malaysia and Indonesia.
Then in May 2018, a former Securency employee Cliff Gerathy pleaded guilty to a charge of false accounting in June and July 2006 over commission payment to Securency’s Malaysian sales agent. He was sentenced to imprisonment for three months.
In October 2013, the main conduit agent in Indonesia, Radius Christanto, pleaded guilty to bribery charges. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment.
In the UK, former senior Securency sales boss, Peter Chapman spent months in jail after being found guilty in 2016 of authorising US$205,000 in bribes to a Nigerian mint official to secure banknote contracts worth around RM150 million.
The case has also been a catalyst in the push for Australia to introduce whistleblower protection laws in relation to financial crime. The persons who exposed the bribery were sacked. To-date, protection in the corporate sector remains virtually non-existent.
Malaysia enacted the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2010 “to combat corruption and other wrongdoings by encouraging and facilitating disclosures of improper conduct in the public and private sector and to protect persons making those disclosures from detrimental action.”
But as the 1MDB witchhunts demonstrated, it appeared hardly effective to assure protection.
Recall that PKR stalwart Rafizi Ramli was convicted for exposing the infamous “cowgate” scandal under a bank secrecy law.
Two months after the Pakatan Harapan victory, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad publicly assured protection for those who blow the whistle on corruption.
“If you tell us what has happened, we will protect you from any retaliation by government servants. We want a clean government, and I believe, so do you,” he said.
Undoubtedly this accounts for the flurry of corruption charges against high Malaysian officials.
Source : The Sun
Source : Malaysia Today