Businessman Questioned in Garuda Indonesia Bribery Probe

Investigators on Tuesday (23/01) questioned a businessman in an ongoing probe into a bribery case surrounding the purchase by national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia of aircraft engines from British engineering firm Rolls-Royce.

Soetikno Soedarjo, the president director of Jakarta-based diversified business group Mugi Rekso Abadi, testified against former Garuda chief executive Emirsyah Satar.

Soetikno was a beneficial owner of Singapore-based Connaught International, which allegedly acted as broker in the case.

Both him and Emirsyah were named suspects early last year in what the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) says was part of a transnational bribery scheme.

Emirsyah and Soetikno, who have also been prevented from leaving the country, have since been summoned for questioning on multiple occasions.

Tuesday's questioning corroborated the bribery allegations, KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said.

Read the full original article at Jakarta Globe.

Najib slammed for playing down 1MDB scandal

Civil society groups and a lawmaker criticised Prime Minister Najib Razak for trying to soft pedal the colossal scandal at state investor 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) yesterday.

They said the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) had called it the world’s biggest kleptocracy and other jurisdictions, such as Switzerland and Singapore, have taken legal action against banks and individuals for money laundering linked to 1MDB.

In contrast, Malaysia has not acted against anyone.

Najib told investors yesterday that 1MDB’s problems were amplified by the opposition to attack the government.

“Now, I am not going to brush over this issue. There were indeed failings at the company, there were lapses of governance. There was valid cause for concern,” Najib said in his speech at Invest Malaysia 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.

“This is why I ordered one of the most comprehensive and detailed investigations in Malaysia’s corporate history, one that involved multiple lawful authorities, including a bipartisan parliamentary body. Their findings were taken on board – and the company’s board was dissolved, its management team changed, and its operations reviewed.”

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua, however, said abroad, banks have been shut down and collaborators jailed for money laundering charges linked to 1MDB.

“(But) no action has been taken in Malaysia. Not even an attempt to recover the stolen funds. So what exactly was amplified?

Read the full original article at The Malaysian Insight.

Thai anti-graft agency says DPM Prawit must prove luxury watches were borrowed

The Thai junta’s number two, who is mired in a graft scandal over his dazzling collection of luxury watches, could be cleared of wrongdoing if he proves the timepieces were borrowed from friends, an anti-graft agency said on Wednesday (Jan 24).

Prawit Wongsuwan’s penchant for pricey watches has captivated Thailand’s public since Facebook users began counting the expensive accessories worn by the deputy prime minister, even prompting calls for him to resign in a country where such open criticism is unusual.

Since December the “CSI LA” Facebook page has counted 25 watches collectively worth US$1.2 million (S$1.6 million), including 11 Rolexes, eight Patek Philippes and three Richard Milles.

The affair has stirred questions over how an ex-general on a relatively humble public servant’s salary could afford items undeclared on his US$2.7 million list of assets on taking office.

The unrelenting social media campaign has heaped pressure on Prawit to resign as well as on the kingdom’s anti-graft agency to open a full, transparent probe into the bling.

Prawit, an architect of Thailand’s 2014 coup who is also defence minister, says the watches were borrowed from friends and later returned.

Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) is yet to open an official graft probe, but is questioning the people Prawit has listed as the watch owners.

Read the full original article at The Straits Times.

Senate summons ex-Comelec chief Bautista on money launder raps

Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista was issued yesterday a subpoena to appear before the Senate concerning his alleged money laundering activities.

The Senate committee on banks and financial institutions chaired by Sen. Francis Escudero issued the subpoena after the former Comelec chief failed to attend the panel’s hearing yesterday.

The committee is looking into the allegations of ill-gotten wealth stashed in a rural bank and possible violation of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (AMLA).

Under the subpoena, Bautista is directed to appear on Feb. 12 before the committee and failure to do so would compel the Senate to hold him in contempt and move for his arrest.

“The committee has consistently sent him invitations to all of the hearings we conducted but until today, he has not given any reasons for his absence. Not even a representative to act on his behalf,” Escudero said.

“We held him in his own words on the media in the past that he will appear and defend himself once invited but apparently he has been a consistent no-show,” he said.

Read the full original article at Philstar Global.

Ministry rebuts reports of Chinese money laundering through property market

The spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs hit back at news reports about Chinese investors laundering their money through Cambodia’s real estate market on Monday, calling them “baseless”.

Speaking to a group of reporters after Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn met with Indian Ambassador Manika Jain, Sounry said Cambodian authorities “are ready to prevent any offence” related to money laundering.

“Some countries, some institutions, do not trust the good relationship between Cambodia and China and often make accusations on this or that,” Sounry said. “What I know is Cambodia has its own authority to combat laundering activities. We have our measures, we have our principles and we have our laws.”

Sounry was apparently referring to a New York Times article published January 9 about the boom in Chinese interest in Cambodian real estate and the opportunities that Cambodia’s cash economy presents for money laundering.

One analyst quoted in the article, Bangkok-based political risk consultant George McLeod, said the lax controls among Cambodian banks allow Chinese buyers to launder cash from criminal activities through Cambodian real estate.

McLeod could not be reached today.

Read the full original article at The Phnom Penh Post.

Myanmar declares war against corruption

Myanmar's anti-corruption chief U Aung Kyi has declared war on bribery and corruption, describing corruption as common enemy, the official Global New Light of Myanmar reported Tuesday.

A two-year plan is being formulated to systematically rid the country of bribery, immorality and malpractice, U Aung Kyi, chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission, pledged at a ceremony in Yangon on Monday.

The anti-corruption war, which needs an all-inclusive approach with long-term plans, will start with educational efforts to change the attitude towards bribery and malpractice, especially among young people, he said, adding that to detest and reject corruption and eliminate it from society is one of the goals of the plan.

He stressed closer scrutiny and action on complaint letters within rules and regulations.

The paper reading ceremony on anti-corruption was jointly organized by the Anti-Corruption Commission and the UN Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) under the title of "Promote Integrity to Counter Corruption."

The anti-corruption commission has drawn up a strategic work plan for 2018 to fight corruption.

Read the full original article at Xinhuanet.com.

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