The recipients of payments by Najib from accounts supplied with stolen money from 1MDB are gradually seeping out, as details from the MACC’s halted investigations have appeared online.
Several of these payments went on luxury shopping and jewellers for Rosmah Mansor. However, many of her husband’s secret election expenses and subsequent political activities are also listed, reflecting his clear obsession with the concept of online and social media “warfare”.
These include a whopping RM655,000 payment to a former foreign press correspondent in KL, Singaporean Romen Bose, who went on to specialise in ‘big data’, ‘media warfare’ and ‘social media intelligence’.
According to a leak on the site SPRM Insider, which has been verified by sources (Sarawak Report has been sent a clearer version of the online documents) Najib paid Bose on 14th August 2014, over a year after the last general election. The money came from one of several AmBank accounts identified by MACC investigators as being in the Prime Minister’s name – No 2112011011906.
This account was supplied by money that had originally been borrowed by the 1MDB subsidiary SRC International from the public pension fund KWAP and it was managed by SRC’s own CEO Nik Faisal, who had been granted authority to put money into the PM’s account.
In July 2015 Sarawak Report originally published information showing that RM42 million had gone from SRC into this and related accounts between December 2014 and February 2015.
Later, in January 2016 more payments came to light when the new Attorney General Apandi Ali attempted to close down that investication, but at the same time waved new papers, which showed that a further RM28 million had filtered into the same 906 account between July and August of 2014.
MACC investigators had noted they had detected “17 recipients” of money from those July/August payments – those names are now being circulated and they include the RM655,000 to Romen Bose.
The following April, shortly after the 1MDB scandal started to beset the Prime Minister, Bose’s new UK-based company, Nevis Associates Limited, was out seeking to hire a ‘Political & Media Warfare Strategist‘ to be based in Kuala Lumpur.
The advertisement posted by the company that Bose owns together with his wife provided a telling job description. The successful candidate would be involved in providing “tactical advise to corporate and political clients. He/she will be composing speeches, statements, assisting in analytics software development, deriving political strategy and involved in Corporate Social Responsibility projects”.
Furthermore, they would get an opportunity to rub shoulders with political VVIPs and learn about “political strategy” and ‘media warfare”:
There will opportunities to network with well-connected individuals and VVIPs.
A career in this firm will give you exposure to computer science, political strategy, media warfare, speech writing, creative multimedia, economics, framework designing, public relations, statistics, digital media content curation, journalism, editorial and project management.
Only two languages were regarded as essential to the job. They were Bahasa Malaysia and English.
Roman Bose, who had started work at the Singapore Tourism Board, got his break in journalism with a job at Al Jazeera in KL, according to his Linked In. He then moved on to AFP where he worked for 4 years until 2012. It was in this post that he first managed to curry favour with the new Prime Minister by setting up a Foreign Correspondents Club, to which Najib was invited to launch with an opening address.
Then in August 2012 Bose got involved in something altogether different. He came to the UK to work for the company IHS Markit, as Head of Social Media and Intelligence, Asia. IHS Markit describes itself as a specialist in the field of what is now called ‘big data’ or ‘deep media intelligence’.
The company says it is “harnessing the deepest sources of information, analytics and expertise” in order to “partner with leaders in business, finance and government”
“We call this The New Intelligence”.
says IHS Markit.
Amongst other activities the company boasts it tracks millions of Twitter posts hourly to guage a country’s attitudes. Bose describes his job in interesting terms saying that he was providing daily reports (using his big data analysis tools) to “coordinate/edit daily intelligence bulletins, draft forecasts and bespoke reports on political and violent risk issues affecting countries in Asia” (see base).
Romen Bose’s Linked in site suggests he is still working with IHS, however when we tried to contact him the company switchboard told us he was not listed and his company email appears redundant.
Meanwhile, in 2013 he set up his out outfit Nevis Associates Limited, which appears to specialise in similar activities, focused this time on “monitoring”. He asks his prospective clients:
“Do you need to gauge people’s sentiment towards current issues, newly introduced policies, decisions, programmes, announcements of even gain critical insights about when protests and street demonstrations are going to take off?
“We provide concise intelligence reports for clients so you can have eyes and ears online at all times”
There are a somewhat limited number of potential prospective clients for such services, particularly in Bahasa Malaysia, so it is perhaps not surprising to see that Bose had indeed netted a fat fee from Najib.
However, there are appropriate budgets for reasonable monitoring of public feelings and public civil service bodies, including Special Branch for carrying out such tasks. So, it is legitimate why was Najib secretly paying this private operator such enormous sums of money? Also, more specifically, out of money stolen from 1MDB?
Furthermore, what do the Prime Minister and Mr Bose mean by the phrase ‘Media Warfare’, which sounds highly illegitimate and resonates in a worrying way with the mass of anymous online defamation that has poured out against Najib’s criticss and opponents over the years, including Sarawak Report?
Given the limited scope for VVIP clients in Bahasa Malaysia for advising political clients and composing speeches, is it not of concern to Malaysians to know exactly what this Bose was getting up to using 1MDB’s now missing money?
Sarawak Report suggests that it is time that Bose and the other named 17 and then 16 recipients of Najib’s payments from his AmBank accounts ought to be called before a Special Parliamentary Committee to explain their secret and apparently extra-governmental activities on behalf of the Prime Minister.