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As 1MDB noose tightens, Umno in desperate bid to wash hands of scandal

November 5, 2018

Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan attends the party’s annual general assembly at PWTC in Kuala Lumpur September 30, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak MALAYMAIL/Azneal Ishak.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan tried to distance his party today from the growing 1MDB corruption scandal as the matter escalated from a civil suit to full-blown criminal indictments in the US.

He said that while he sympathised with former president Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is already facing charges here over the scandal, Umno must not be dragged further into the matter that is under investigation in six international jurisdictions.

“Umno is an innocent party and absolutely not party to any operations or transactions of 1MDB.

“It is unfair, undeserved and unreasonable for any party to keep blaming and linking Umno to matters that it did not know of or do,” he said in a statement.

The US Justice Department (DoJ) announced this week that it has indicted former Goldman Sachs bankers Tim Leissner and Roger Ng, and alleged 1MDB mastermind Low Taek Jho on criminal charges.

This is a marked escalation of the DoJ’s previous kleptocracy action over 1MDB. Previously, the culprits had claimed that the scandal was not criminal in nature.

Leissner pleaded guilty in a plea deal while Ng was arrested here and will be deported to the US to face charges there. Low remains at large.

The indictments will be of particular concern to Najib and his family, as they are strongly alluded to as “Malaysian Official 1”, MO1’s wife, and MO1’s “relative” who co-founded a movie production firm in the US, as being involved in the alleged corruption or as co-conspirators.

Low, also known as Jho Low, changed his position on the matter as well, simply insisting now that he was innocent until proven guilty when his previous statements used to detail how there had not been any criminal proceedings against him in any jurisdictions.

Today, Mohamad also pleaded with the Malay community to not abandon Umno, saying the party was not asking for much beyond the opportunity to serve.

“Verily, Umno has always put the position of the Malays and a fair Malaysia way above its own.

“To continue punishing Umno over this issue that is not its doing, or even its fault, is unfair and most definitely will not benefit the Malay race,” he said.

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