Anwar amassed a significant personal fortune, both before and after becoming Finance Minister, says the writer of The 'I' Files. (Graphic by Dayang Norazhar/The Mole)
KUALA LUMPUR: Recent revelations about Anwar Ibrahim, in a book that is being published online chapter by chapter, paint a picture of a powerful politician whose money “washed across five continents”.
The ‘I’ Files, a book which appears in blog form and is written by someone working under the pseudonym Jonathan Smith, recounts the rise and fall and rise again of Anwar through the decades.
The first four chapters were summarised by The Mole in May.
The fifth and sixth chapters provide details of what the writer calls Anwar’s “money machine”. “We will follow the money,”Smith writes in Chapter Five.
“Telling the story of Anwar Ibrahim’s money is rather like telling the story of the Pacific Ocean,” Smith writes. “Where to begin and how to end is a feat in itself.”
Smith, who claims to be a former Western intelligence agent, says Anwar amassed a significant personal fortune, both before and after becoming Finance Minister, through “what we believed were the use of his hidden accounts at Hong Leong and Bank Negara”, though he says that explanation was “too simple, too crude”.
“To completely understand Anwar’s finances, one must understand the network of associates and cronies he developed,” Smith says, naming several individuals such as Anwar’s former secretary NasaruddinJalil and Abdul Rahim Ghouse.
Rahim, who Smith calls “one of the more pivotal of Anwar’s henchmen”, deserves particular attention because he facilitated many of Anwar’s connections. Smith writes:
Rahim, together with Wan Hasni Wan Sulaiman, founded Abrar, a company at the centre of so much of Anwar’s business dealings; the other founder was YassinQadi, a Saudi businessman who would become famous in the early part of the millennium as one of al Qaeda’s funders, a terrorist financier identified as such by both the United States and the United Nations. Abrar was one of Anwar’s funding arms, and was, according to American and other intelligence agencies, used to hide and funnel assets to Hamas, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and other groups reliant on Wahhabi funding and support.
Smith claims a raid on Yassin Qadi’s Swiss chalet by authorities looking for al-Qaeda revealed phone records that pointed to a handful of people in Malaysia, including Anwar and his wife Wan Azizah.
Smith also names a Bank Negara Malaysia officer named Abdul Murad Khalid, who he says gave a sworn statement in which he claimed Anwar “had controlled billions of ringgits in the bank through proxies and straw men”. Smith writes:
Anwar relied on a complex web of Malaysian and foreign accountants, financial advisers, tax lawyers, brokers, and other financial professionals to not only comply with, but to cleverly exploit loopholes in and shelter, a sprawling financial empire. He ran his operations from Malaysia, but his money rarely stayed for long in one place. Some of those lawyers and accountants also moved around, and switched sides, and (in exchange for the appropriate gratuity) they brought to our little team of expats, one at a time, some of the paper trail.
Smith says Anwar also benefitted from good relations with various powerful figures in Washington via a foundation called IIIT and was “able to play the ‘good Muslim’ to Americans with little practical experience in the Islamic world, guiding them to favourable investment opportunities – companies and firms with ties to Anwar”.
Besides getting funds from the Saudis via IIIT, Smith says, Anwar channelled large sums of money through the Israel Discount Bank, the last place Mahathir or anyone else would ever think of looking. From there the money trail went to Pakistan, where a sophisticated international banking operation hidden away in a Lahore slum was run by people who made important banking decisions “at the service of the highest bidder, including a certain up-and-coming politician from Malaysia”.
There’s more to the story of Anwar Ibrahim at The ‘I’ Files.