Malaysia’s new anti-graft chief wrecked havoc among the corporate world after the government filed a civil forfeiture suit against 41 entities comprising individuals, companies and political parties.
But the big question remains: Who will repay the corporate bodies for the goods delivered?
The local distributor of Chevrolet cars, Naza Quest Auto Sdn Bhd, last week clarified that some RM270,000 it received from former prime minister Najib Razak was for the purchase of four cars between 2012 and 2013.
The allegations are the money to purchase the cars came stolen or siphoned 1MDB money. But the company does not have any clue whether the money came from 1MDB.
And the next question is how would the corporate world know whether the buyers are paying them with stolen cash? They were dealing with Najib Razak and at that moment in time, the 1MDB scandal did not break into the news.
The aim of the MACC and by extension the Malaysian government is to recover RM270 million of 1MDB money used to purchase goods and so on.
The US Justice Department or DOJ seized RM919 million which includes overseas assets involving film production house Red Granite Picture and luxury New York hotel Park Lane.
Anti-Corruption chief commissioner Latheefa Koya says the civil forfeiture is a pragmatic way of getting the monies back.
But the goods are sold and gone. Would the authorities seize the cars Naza delivered and return them at market value to the vendor? The process is unclear.
Latheefa says recovery of assets is as important as going for prosecution. “There may be many people who received the money but if we were to go on prosecution, that might take time,” she says.
Hence they found a shortcut which is the civil forfeiture suit.
Naza Quest Auto, the vendor of the Chevrolet cars to Najib, says RM105,000 was paid on Dec 17, 2012 and another RM164,662 paid on Dec 9, 2013, each transaction for the purchase of two Chevrolet cars.
In the face of the onslaught, the company says it will cooperate with the authorities.
In a statement, another group named in the suit Jakel Trading and Jakel Trading Sdn Bhd says it is not involved in the 1MDB scandal.
Jakel says it is cooperating with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission by providing all relevant documents needed. It will show that it delivered fabrics that Najib and his office bought for charity programmes for Imams, religious schools and to more than 7000 mosques around Malaysia.
It also include supply of clothing for flood victims between 2011 and 2014.
Again, the group had no idea the payment was from 1MDB money.
The scandal broke out into the public space in 2015.