Who is rich? He that is content. Who is that? Nobody. – Benjamin Franklin
I read an item on Twitter recently, from an aggrieved bank customer in Malaysia.
Our friend thought he’d finally paid off his car loan. Close, but no cigar.
His loan balance read $0.01. And the bank insisted that he settle the “outstanding” amount before anything else, meaning, he couldn’t cancel said bank’s claims on the car.
Trivia for the day: Do you know you cannot transfer $0.01 online? It’s below the minimum transfer amount.
It stumped our worthy who proceeded to have a Eureka moment: He transferred $1 to the bank instead.
“Hee-Hee,” thought he gleefully, “now it’ll have to return $0.99 to me and Good Luck with that!”
Unfortunately, the bank was made of sterner stuff: it knew Banking Rope-A-Dope 101 as well as any Goldman Sachs and countered with the aplomb of a bureaucrat. Its answer: if said worthy wanted any change, he’d have to submit a written request together with supporting documents of proof.
It was the banking equivalent of “put that in your pipe and smoke it.”
Of course, he gave up!
Our friend didn’t name the bank which was a pity as it might have embarrassed it enough to have the grace to return his money.
“You win, bankers,” he concluded dismally, “You always f$%^&g win!”
Tim Leisner didn’t.
As an implacable banker and a hardnosed dealmaker, Leisner knew there were only two rules for success. 1) Never tell all you know.
But now he was telling all that he knew about 1MDB to a New York court and Malaysians were riveted. He was the person who enabled Jho “Felonious” Low to steal billions of dollars from 1MDB and his guilty plea probably did more to undermine former premier Najib Razak’s credibility than anything else.
The sums bandied about in Leisner’s testimony against Roger Ng, his Goldman colleague and friend, were enough to delight Donald Trump. It also made you wonder why anyone in their positions – wealthy by any measure – would take such risks to make themselves richer.
But these people aren’t normal, to begin with. Recall that the wife of the former premier thought nothing of paying over a RM1000 for getting her hair done in her home.
For his part, Felonious knew that money couldn’t buy you happiness, but it could buy you a yacht big enough to pull up alongside it.
He probably thought he would remain safe so long as his friend remained in power. Both knew the Golden Rule: he who has the Gold, Rules.
I suppose in the case of the former First Lady, if it didn’t buy you happiness, it helped you be miserable in comfort.
But how to explain Leisner and Ng?
Goldman’s exorbitant commissions were immediately noticed by the media which must have set warning bells ringing in the US and Malaysia.
Felonious’ extravagant and well publicised spending sprees in the US must have also attracted attention. The minute the DOJ released its report in 2016, Messrs Leisner and Ng must have known the jig was up.
Despite his testimony and cooperation, Leisner still faces sentencing. The former premier’s last gasp is also due.
Only Felonious remains unaccounted for.
So are 1MDB’s billions.