It’s not corruption which gets people but greed:
It was a state investment fund set up by the now former Prime Minister Najib Razak ostensibly to develop parts of Kuala Lumpur into a financial centre and boost the economy.
But that didn’t happen.
Instead, the fund’s debt ballooned and there were massive allegations of fraud and misconduct, including by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) which alleges $3.5bn (£2.6bn) was misappropriated from 1MDB.
“The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale,” said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at the time.
Mr Najib was accused of receiving $700m dollars of that money, but has strongly denied all wrongdoing, despite being all but named in the DOJ suit.
If Najib had skimmed off a few million nobody would have cared, but if sums in the order of $700m turn up in your personal bank account, the knives will come out. I noticed this in Nigeria: whenever some government minister was accused of corruption it wasn’t merely theft of a few million to keep his or her family in a London flat, but hundreds of millions or even billions. And my question was always: what the hell are you going to do with that?
If you’re living the lifestyle of a Malaysian Prime Minister, swiping $10m on top of the salary, kickbacks, and unofficial payments is probably sufficient to keep you rolling in gravy for life. Even if you’re caught, you’d probably find people will cover for you because they’re also on the make, and the public will likely shrug it off as an acceptable loss. So why go an order of magnitude higher and risk everything? Greed is an odd vice, and very much a part of human nature. For some, no amount of money is ever enough and you have to wonder whether it’s about the money at all.