Pandora Papers: Tengku Zafrul’s challenge sparks debate on MACC’s Labuan sweep

INVESTMENT, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz has responded to calls for an investigation into his involvement in the Pandora Papers, questioning the rationale behind such demands.

In a video posted on his social media, Tengku Zafrul challenged the suggestion that all companies in Labuan, including his former position at Capital Investment Bank, were engaged in illegal activities.

“Do they want to request that all directors of financial companies in Labuan be investigated by MACC and do they want to accuse the Malaysian government of encouraging illegal activities following the establishment of the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (LIBFC)?

“For your information, there are over 940 companies registered with the Labuan Financial Services Authority (LFSA), including 70 banks and 237 insurance companies.

“To date, banks in Labuan have almost US$50 bil in assets and insurance companies there also have insurance premiums of up to US$1.7 bil. Are all these assets illegal?” he questioned.

Tengku Zafrul reminded his critics that Capital Investment Bank was incorporated in Labuan, which was made an international offshore financial hub by the Malaysian government in 1990 during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s tenure as prime minister.

“Until now, Labuan still acts as a LIBFC under the supervision of LFSA. So are the ones who want me to be investigated saying that all companies opened in Labuan are doing illegal business and breaking the law?” he asked.

The Pandora Papers revelation in 2021 identified Tengku Zafrul as the director of Capital Investment Bank (Labuan) Limited, a Labuan-based boutique bank. He clarified that he held the position during his tenure with the Kenanga group and relinquished all Kenanga-related posts upon becoming Maybank’s CEO in June 2010.

Amid calls for an investigation by Gerakan Menuntut Malaysia Bersih (GMMB), Tengku Zafrul defended his role, noting that he was an employee and did not own the company.

Moreover, he also raised concerns about the potential negative implications for the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (LIBFC) and questioned the need for an investigation into his activities.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has initiated investigations into other figures named in the Pandora Papers, including former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin.

However, Tengku Zafrul seeks clarification on the basis of calls to probe his involvement in the offshore financial activities revealed in the leak. – Jan 17, 2023

Main photo credit: AFP

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