Banker in hot water over post

A senior Malaysian banker who publicly disputed Wall Street Journal's (WSJ) documents on the alleged transfer of funds into Prime Minister Najib Razak's accounts will himself come under investigation by his bank for sharing his analysis publicly.

CIMB Islamic Bank CEO Badlisyah Abdul Ghani made public his analysis and later admitted to making a mistake, with CIMB Group chairman Nazir Razak saying yesterday that Mr Badlisyah should not have made the comments in the first place.

Mr Badlisyah had initially claimed through his Facebook posting on Wednesday that there were several discrepancies in the sender's address as well as the Swift code, an identifier code specific to a bank, used in the documents released by WSJ.

The WSJ documents released on Tuesday accompanied its report last week that had alleged US$700 million (S$940 million) was funnelled from state investor 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to PM Najib's accounts. Datuk Seri Najib has denied the claims.

Mr Badlisyah retracted part of his claim hours later after news site MalaysiaKini pointed out some mistakes he had made in drawing up his earlier conclusion.

"I would like to make clear that all the views published on my Facebook account are strictly my personal views and not the views of any other individual or organisation. They were meant for private consumption among a group of friends," he said in a statement via his Facebook profile on Wednesday. He later admitted to making some mistakes and corrected them.

His posting was used by pro-Umno bloggers to condemn the WSJ for basing its story on unreliable documents.

Malaysia's top two English dailies carried Mr Badlisyah's posting yesterday. The New Straits Times (NST) published the article "Bankers question authenticity of papers". The Star went with "Documents show false Swift Code", quoting from Mr Badlisyah.

NST also carried another article with a list of links questioning the WSJ's reliability on stories about Malaysia.

The links were mainly from blogs and websites that are unknown in Malaysia, such as Consortium News and Brad Delong's Grasping Reality.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's multimedia watchdog has warned the public not to spread modified pictures, unverified news or any speculation regarding investigations into 1MDB through social media.

Since news of the alleged transfer of 1MDB-linked funds to Mr Najib's accounts spread, many Internet memes and improvised lists of movie titles have been circulating on social media, mocking the Prime Minister. The Twitter hashtag #1MDBMovies has been very popular.

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission said those found guilty of spreading such material could be fined RM50,000 (S$17,800) or jailed for one year, or both.

The warning raised a storm on the Internet. Social activist Marina Mahathir, the daughter of former premier Mahathir Mohamad, tweeted: "Jails will be full."


This article was first published on July 10, 2015.
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