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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — Singaporean police had tipped off Malaysia’s central bank of suspicious transactions involving a company owned by the husband and son of former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, business paper The Edge reported today.
According to the report, the republic’s Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) had shared this information with BNM in 2015 and 2016, when Zeti was still its governor.
The information shared with BNM at the time involved suspicious funds going into a UBS bank account under the name of Iron Rhapsody Ltd, which The Edge reported to be owned by one Dr Tawfiq Ayman (who shares the same name as Zeti’s husband) and another man believed to be her son and was not named in the report.
“Several inflows of funds into this account triggered a suspicious transaction report (STR), that took place in 2008 and 2009. But Bank Negara was only alerted in 2015 and 2016. Soon after this, investigators in Malaysia, Switzerland and the US launched probes into the theft and laundering of billions of dollars that belonged to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
“The probes were triggered by exposés published from March 2015 by The Edge, Sarawak Report and The Wall Street Journal,” The Edge said in its report.
Citing documents shared by CAD, Iron Rhapsody received a total of RM66 million from five transactions from companies and bank accounts held by Low Taek Jho—better known as Jho Low, the central figure in the 1MDB financial scandal.
The report added that the source of four transactions involved funds from Low and his supporters from the RM5 billion 1MDB/TIA (Terengganu Investment Authority) bonds that were arranged by Ambank in 2009.
“Low and others, via Aktis Capital Pte Ltd, Acme Time and Country Group Private Securities Ltd, made more than RM600 million in profits from this.
“Besides this, Tawfiq and Low were also believed to have been partners in a company that Low set up in July 2007 called Abu Dhabi Kuwait Malaysia (ADKMIC),” the report said.
The Edge added that documents also showed that ex-BSI banker Yak Yew Chee had told CAD that when ADKMIC was incorporated, there were six to seven shareholders, including Low and Tawfiq.
“CAD probes found that between June 2011 and September 2013, US$153 million (RM620 million) were transferred to ADKMIC’s bank account in RBS Coutts, Singapore from Goodstar Ltd’s bank account in RBS Coutts, Switzerland.
“Goodstar is owned by Low and received US$700 million illegally from the RM5 billion 1MDB/TIA bonds issue with the help of Ambank,” it said
The Edge also reported that the government-guaranteed bond paid a hefty coupon of 5.75 per cent and was sold at a discount by Ambank to Low and cohorts through companies in Singapore and Bangkok.
The Edge reported that BNM had responded to its queries but said it could not comment on them as it is “bound by the international protocol for sharing financial intelligence”.
The business paper added that Zeti did not respond when contacted.