Malaysia’s former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has accused Australia of turning a blind-eye to corruption in his country in an interview with SBS World News.
Mahathir ruled Malaysia for 22 years before stepping down in 2003. Speaking with SBS World News reporter Jarni Blakkarly, Mahathir attacks his successor Prime Minister Najib Razak, who has been embroiled in a corruption scandal.
Since 2015 Najib has been entangled in corruption allegations relating to a Malaysian state investment fund. Over one billion dollars, allegedly siphoned from the fund, made its way into Najib’s private bank accounts.
Najib denied any wrongdoing and said the money in his accounts were donations from the Saudi royal family.
Allegations of corruption relating to the fund have prompted investigations in Switzerland, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, with over a billion in allegedly corrupt assets seized in America and several bankers jailed in Singapore, but Mahathir tells SBS that Australian law enforcement is turning a blind-eye:
“Australia has been involved to a certain extent but it looks as if the government of Australia wants to avoid any involvement”, Mahathir told SBS World News in regards to breaches of money laundering regulations at AmBank.
Between January 2011 and April 2013 more than one billion dollars was deposited into Najib’s accounts at the Malaysian bank, AmBank. In 2015 AmBank was fined more that $16 million for breaching Malaysia’s anti money laundering regulations.
Australia’s ANZ has been the single largest shareholder in AmBank for more than a decade, holding a 24 per cent stake. That share gives ANZ the right to four of the 12 seats on AmBank’s board.
ANZ also gained the right to appoint key management positions at AmBank, including Chief Risk Officer and Chief Financial Officer. However, at a parliamentary inquiry earlier this year, ANZ CEO Shayne Elliott said that didn’t necessarily give them any leverage.
ANZ declined to be interviewed or comment on questions from SBS about whether senior ANZ staff working at AmBank had any knowledge of the transactions. There is no suggestion that senior ANZ staff working at AmBank had any knowledge of or involvement in the transactions.
Saturday 13 May and Sunday 14 May at 6.30pm on SBS.