Singapore’s central bank files police report against author of defamatory article relating to 1MDB

The Straits Times

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has filed a police report against the author of an article published on the States Times Review website on Nov 5 which made statements that were false and malicious, and impugned the integrity of MAS as a financial regulator.

The article alleged that Malaysia had signed several unfair agreements with Singapore, in exchange for Singapore banks’ assistance in laundering 1MDB’s funds, MAS said in a statement on Friday (Nov 9).

This comes after the Sarawak Report distanced itself from an online article linking Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal on Thursday. On Wednesday, Singapore’s High Commission in Malaysia described the article on the website of The Coverage as fake news and libellous.

“The article is baseless and defamatory,” MAS said in its statement. “MAS has placed utmost importance on safeguarding its integrity as a financial regulator, and takes seriously any false allegations to the contrary.”

The article also makes false allegations that Singapore was forced to reopen its investigations into 1MDB only after the change in political leadership in Malaysia, MAS said, adding: “Investigations into 1MDB case had never been closed.”

MAS said that at its annual report press conferences in 2016 and 2017, it had made clear that it would not hesitate to investigate any new leads or evidence relating to 1MDB-related fund flows. This was reiterated in the public statement jointly issued by MAS, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Singapore Police Force on June 8, the authority said.

Singapore’s law enforcement and regulatory agencies had also been cooperating actively with their counterparts in Malaysia, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the United States during the tenure of the previous Malaysian government, said MAS.

In a post on its Facebook site on Thursday (Nov 8), the Sarawak Report, which had helped expose alleged corruption relating to 1MDB, wrote: “Misleading article. This article by an anonymously edited website is erroneous.”

The article, dated Nov 7, was carried on the website of The Coverage, which describes itself as a “social news network based in Malaysia”. The source for the article was listed as “Straights Review”, and included a link to a similar article on the States Times Review website.

The Sarawak Report, in addressing the article, wrote: “It claims the editor of SR gave an unspecified ‘interview to the Malaysian media’ declaring that ‘Singapore’ is the next target of an unspecified ‘1MDB investigation’. SR has not given any such interview and has not written on this subject. The article moreover is unclear in its direction and meaning. SR disowns the remarks and wishes the publication to correct the false claim.”

In its statement on Nov 7, Singapore’s High Commission in Malaysia referred to the article titled “Breaking News: Singapore Lee Hsien Loong becomes 1MDB’s key investigation target – Najib signed several unfair agreements with Hsien Loong in exchange for money laundering”.

The statement said: “The High Commission of the Republic of Singapore in Malaysia would like to categorically state that this article is fake news and clearly libellous.”

Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, is facing corruption charges over the misuse of funds from 1MDB, the state investment vehicle founded in 2009.