The Finance Ministry should direct Bank Negara to launch a full investigation into the Pandora Papers that raises the question of illicit financial flows out of Malaysia which has been estimated as much as USD33.7 billion. The Pandora Papers exposes the offshore secrets of wealthy elites from more than 200 countries and territories using tax and secrecy havens to buy property and hide assets thereby avoiding taxes and covering up illegally obtained money.
There are more than 330 politicians exposed by the Pandora Papers from 90 countries, which unfortunately included prominent Malaysians. The Pandora Papers is part of the scandal of illicit financial flows (IFFs) which the Global Financial Integrity Report (GFI) defines as funds that are illegally earned, transferred, and/or utilized across an international border. The funds are sourced from criminal and corruption activities.
Money laundering remains a serious problem and GFI estimates that the annual value of trade-related IFFs in and out of developing countries has amounted to, on average, about 20 % of the value of their total trade with advanced economies. According to the latest 10-year report by GFI titled Illicit Financial Flows to and from 148 Developing Countries: 2006-2015, Malaysia lost between US$22.9 billion (RM94.22 billion) and US$33.7 billion (RM138.66 billion) in illicit outflows from 2006 until 2015.
Previously we have the Panama Papers disclosing that over 2,000 Malaysian citizens and companies had secret accounts in Panama, presumably to hide their ill-gotten gains. Unlike other countries, no one was prosecuted for money laundering and IFFs presumably because they were part of the ruling establishment.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission(MACC) is a huge disappointment when their officers at the highest levels are involved and accused of stealing funds without any accountability for their illegal misconduct whatsoever. Bank Negara must fully investigate to demonstrate that the Malaysian government not only has nothing to hide but is not attempting any cover up of both the Pandora Papers involving Malaysians and illicit financial flows.
It is unfortunate the Speaker of the Dewan Rakyat Azhar Harun continues to deny the attempts by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibarahim to debate this important issue in Parliament. To prove that there is nothing to hide, such an investigation should punish those involved in IFFs as well as recommend stringent measures to prevent illicit financial flows out of Malaysia and how to improve transparency, accountability and good governance.