Malaysia has discovered “many mini 1MDBs” in its campaign to root out corruption in the state, according to a top adviser to PM Mahathir Mohamad, signaling the wrongdoing unearthed at the debt-ridden fund may be more widespread.
Daim Zainuddin, 80, who was appointed by Mahathir to head up a Council of Eminent Persons to advise the new government on how to meet its campaign pledges, found indications of multiple criminal breaches of trust based on his meetings with dozens of state institutions and government-linked companies. He will submit his findings to the premier.
“There are so many mini 1MDBs,” he said in Kuala Lumpur. “I’m surprised at the loss. I’m still gathering all the total. But it’s big. If you add it up, it’s big. Very big.”
Malaysia has been quick to revive an investigation into 1MDB — the state-owned investment fund at the heart of a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal — but authorities are finding the finish line moving farther away as signs point to wrongdoing that’s more widespread than previously known.
In the month since Mahathir’s surprise election, the authorities have questioned former premier Najib Razak and his wife, seized millions of dollars in cash, handbags and jewellery, and issued arrest warrants for people linked to the troubled state fund. Najib denies any wrongdoing.
Just last week, the government raised new questions over $2.4 billion of projects involving a unit of China National Petroleum Corp. and Suria Strategic Energy Resources Sdn., a company that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng has called an “offshoot” of 1MDB.
The ministry will appoint an accounting firm to lead an executive committee that will operate the company and investigate the transactions.