KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian government will instruct its agencies to look into claims in the Pandora papers, the leaked confidential records of offshore wealth involving several prominent figures in the country, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar on Monday (Oct 25).
The de facto law minister was responding to a follow-up parliamentary question by Port Dickson MP Anwar Ibrahim, who asked the prime minister to explain the government’s measures to preserve the administration’s credibility and integrity following the expose.
“I give the assurance that I will invite all the agencies you mentioned - the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), the police’s Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) and other parties - to relay an instruction from the prime minister for the investigations to be conducted,” the minister said.
“And god willing, we will discuss and determine a date to present the findings to parliament, once (we have) obtained the result of the investigation,” he added.
In his earlier reply, Mr Wan Junaidi said the use of offshore accounts is not fundamentally a crime, and action will be taken if any criminal evidence is linked to any individuals or companies.
The minister said the MACC had not initiated investigations into the Pandora Papers’ reports, but the commission was in the process of obtaining further information.
“MACC is also holding discussions with other related agencies, including BNM to ensure coordination on this investigation goes smoothly.”
“In this matter, the government will not interfere with the (investigation by) authorities if there are any reports towards any parties or individuals who need further further investigations conducted against them,” he said.
Mr Anwar, who is the Leader of the Opposition, also asked if the government had been monitoring illicit financial outflows and the amount of illicit money that had been moved out of Malaysia since 2008.
He asked why it was not possible for the government to set a clear direction for the aforementioned agencies, as well as the Inland Revenue Board, to set a time frame for action to be taken.
“Malaysia is the highest in Asia, out of 30 countries. In 2015, US$33.7 billion (RM139.9 billion), over RM100 billion.
“It’s more than five years, almost 10 years, no action has been taken,” he added, referring to an earlier Global Financial Integrity report.
Mr Anwar said if there was no wrongdoing, the parliament should be informed.
The so-called Pandora Papers investigation is based on leaked confidential records of 14 offshore service providers which assist wealthy individuals and corporations seeking to incorporate shell companies, trusts, foundations and other entities in low- or no-tax jurisdictions.
Thirty-five current and former leaders were among politicians, billionaires, celebrities, royal family members and others around the world featured in the vast trove of documents analysed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Among the prominent Malaysian figures named in the Pandora Papers were former finance minister Daim Zainuddin, former deputy prime minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and current finance minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz.
News portal Malaysiakini reported on Oct 4 that the documents showed the companies and trusts held by Mr Daim's children, wife or known business associates were worth at least £25 million (RM141.6 million).
He maintained his business dealings were legitimate.
Mr Tengku Zafrul, whose name appeared as the director of an offshore investment bank, later clarified he had relinquished his executive roles in the Kenanga Group since June 2010 after assuming the role of chief executive officer at Maybank Investment Bank Bhd.
Mr Wan Junaidi, in his parliament reply on Monday, also said he would discuss with Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob so that those named in the Pandora Papers would be allowed to give a personal explanation in the Lower House.