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MP: Why did Godfrey Group pay lobbyist on govt’s behalf?

By FMT Reporters (26 May 2017)


KUALA LUMPUR: PKR’s investment and trade chairman Wong Chen wants to know the relationship between the government and the firm that allegedly paid RM1.07 million on its behalf to lobby the Trump administration.

The Kelana Jaya MP, in a statement, asked several questions regarding a report that the government had hired a firm called the 45 Group to lobby on its behalf and that the firm was paid US$250,000 on May 9 by a Malaysian company called the Godfrey Group Ltd.

US Department of Justice documents show that the 45 Group said it would provide “government relations and public relations services in support of the Government of Malaysia and strengthening the US-Malaysian relationship”.

Wong Chen asked whether Godfrey Group Ltd was owned by the federal government. If yes, he added, Prime Minister Najib Razak had to explain to Parliament who had approved this spending and what was the key performance indicator for this spending.

However, if the Godfrey Group is a private company and not related to the federal government, he wants to know why it is paying money to a lobbyist to help Malaysia.

“What is the hidden agenda of such actions? What will Godfrey get in return from the federal government? “I sincerely hope that the above payment has nothing to do with any illegal lobbying work to influence the DoJ’s 1MDB investigations and actions,” he added.

The Daily Beast had reported that the 45 Group was headed by Healy Baumgardner-Nardone who used to work for the election campaign of now President Donald Trump. She is said to have close ties with Trump’s inner circle.

The report said she registered last week to lobby on behalf of Malaysia. It said the DoJ records revealed that the 45 Group was paid US$250,000 on May 9 for work that included US public and government relations services and “business consulting services for activities that are not governed” by laws requiring the disclosure of foreign government advocacy.

It said the cheque came from Godfrey Group Ltd and that public information on this company was sparse, adding that it was not immediately clear what exactly the company did or who was involved in it.

The report noted that there were currently two issues that impacted the Malaysian government in the US: the charge that it engaged in unfair trade practices and Najib being linked to the 1MDB scandal. The Daily Beast said although Baumgardner-Nardone’s DoJ registration documents did not list specific issues on which she would work, Malaysia had sought to refute President Trump’s charge that it engaged in unfair trade practices. Malaysia was one of more than a dozen nations targeted by a March executive order that directed the Department of Commerce to crack down on trade “cheaters”.

The Daily Beast noted that Najib was also allegedly at the centre of a major corruption scandal involving 1MDB, and that his stepson was one of the defendants in a DoJ lawsuit seeking to recover assets allegedly pilfered from the fund.