With the US President Barack Obama due to make a supposedly image-boosting visit to Malaysia next month, yet another embarrassing denial has come out from the Prime Minister over 1MDB.
This time Najib Razak has directed his denial against the testimony of a key aide of Obama himself, his chief fundraiser, the businessman Frank White Jr of DuSable Capital Management.
Our research shows that White registered a half million dollar payment from the Government of Malaysia with respect to 1MDB and he is assumed to have been one of the key facilitators of the friendly relationship between the two politicians, who played golf in Hawaii during the Malaysian flooding disaster at the start of the year.
DuSable Capital Management focuses on energy support services and over the past two years it has declared a somewhat ill-defined role in 1MDB’s latest energy project – a planned solar power plant in Kedah (which we have noted is budgeted at three times the amount of similar projects elsewhere).
In public depositions the company has stated “one aspect of DuSable’s activities will be to communicate with US Government Officials” [23.04.14] and also “to encourage the US Government to provide non-financial support for the [1MDB Solar Power] project” [26.09.13].
Given there is no obvious need for 1MDB to require any US government advocacy to support the construction of a field of power generating solar panels in Kedah, the inevitable assumption is that Frank White Jr had agreed as part of his deal with 1MDB to promote its stated boss “the Government of Malaysia” with his own political boss Barack Obama.
For example by arranging golf between Najib and the President.
Nevertheless, in a written answer to a Parliamentary question, Najib has now categorically denied that there had been any agreement between DuSable and 1MDB WHATSOEVER!
“1MDB has never signed any sort of agreement with DuSable Capital Management LLC in Kedah.” [Parliamentary reply by Najib]
The MP who asked the question, PKR’s Wong Chen, has expressed considerable surprise as a result:
“For this Parliamentary session, I put in a question for an update on the 1MDB solar power project in Kedah with DuSable Capital Management LLC (DuSable). The project was reported by The Star on 23rd April 2014.
Yesterday, I received an official Parliamentary reply from the Minister of Finance, YAB Najib Razak that 1MDB has not signed any joint venture agreement with DuSable in Kedah.
We have been told that the Prime Minister’s golfing buddy, President Obama will be visiting Malaysia again this November.
The co-founder of DuSable is Frank White Junior. He has been described by Bloomberg as “President Obama’s top individual fundraiser, a former technology executive who collected millions of dollars for the Obama’s election campaigns.
So, is Najib’s company calling Mr Obama’s aide a liar?
After all, anyone who cares to check can look up the filings made by DuSable, because the United States’ transparency laws demand that all companies register their foreign dealings under the so-called FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act).
Frank White Jr made a number of depositions about his deal with 1MDB, beginning in 2013 when the plan to build the solar station was announced.
“DuSable has engaged in a partnership with 1Malaysia Development Berhad to develop, finance and construct a 50 MWac solar project….” the latest 2014 filing explains (second document below):
DuSable amended the declaration the following year to say that the relationship would not involve any investment in the company by 1MDB, as had been stated previously.
Presumably the publicity surrounding the news that 1MDB would be investing in DuSable had been considered unconstructive:
What all this documentation makes clear is that DuSable certainly had an arrangement of some sort with 1MDB.
What’s more, the public declarations show exactly how much money DuSable was getting “from the Government of Malaysia” for a “joint venture partnership reimbursement for solar investment project in Malaysia” – according to DuSable US$506,079:
Nice money for Frank White Jr for his activities, which included communicating with US Government Officials to provide that non-financial support. He puts in the details in a separate form, included are Frank and his co-director’s hefty travel expenses to KL showing the final total paid by 1MDB to DuSable was US$524,394.10:
But, with such talk of joint ventures and partnerships, how is that Najib has stated there has been “no arrangement whatsoever”? Does he mean that Frank White Jr, who is Mr Obama’s close and trusted confidante, is lying?!
Wong Chen has understandably now challenged Najib to straighten things out with the US Governement:
“If there is no partnership whatsoever between DuSable and 1MDB, will the Minister of Finance file a formal complaint to the US State Department of Justice against DuSable?” he asked yesterday.
Perhaps Najib should sort this little problem before Mr Obama jets in in a couple of weeks?