Highlights:

  1. MACC arrests Najib over 1MDB case
  2. SC Liberalises Framework for Retail Investment in Corporate Bond and Sukuk Market
  3. Cabinet agrees to lower voting age to 18
  4. Malaysia’s growth performance to remain healthy in 2018 – Moody’s
  5. UOB named Best Regional Bank of the Year for Belt and Road Initiative in SEA

MACC arrests Najib over 1MDB case
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today arrested former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over a 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) case involving the alleged deposit of RM2.6 billion into his personal account. The MACC said in a statement that the arrest was made at 4.13 pm at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya. The MACC said Datuk Seri Najib would face several charges under Section 23(1) of the MACC Act 2009. It added that the former prime minister would be charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court tomorrow. The MACC said it would collaborate with the Royal Malaysia Police to record a statement from Datuk Seri Najib to assist the police investigation under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 before taking him to court tomorrow.

SC Liberalises Framework for Retail Investment in Corporate Bond and Sukuk Market
The Securities Commission Malaysia today announced the liberalisation of its regulatory framework to facilitate greater retail access to the RM1.3 trillion Malaysian bond and Sukuk market. The liberalisation forms part of the SC’s continued efforts to further develop this market, currently the third largest in Asia (relative to GDP) and the world’s largest Sukuk market. The liberalised framework will allow a more efficient issuance process for corporate bonds and Sukuk to be offered to retail investors. Qualified issuers no longer need to make disclosures through a prospectus, and are only required to issue a product highlight sheet. The range of corporate bonds and Sukuk that can be offered to retail investors has also been expanded beyond plain vanilla bonds. In addition, the SC is introducing a new seasoning framework to enable retail investors to access existing corporate bonds and Sukuk which are currently traded by sophisticated investors in the over-the-counter (OTC) market. Under this framework, corporate bonds and Sukuk that are eligible for retail investment must have been in the market for at least 12 months, and have a minimum credit rating of A, among other requirements. In tandem with these measures, distributors of corporate bonds and sukuk in the OTC market are required to observe the sales practices prescribed by the SC, such as the requirement to undertake necessary client on-boarding assessment and ensure fair treatment of investors.

Cabinet agrees to lower voting age to 18
Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman said the Cabinet has agreed to lower the voting age from 21 years to 18. He said an amendment to the Federal Constitution had to be approved by a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat for the decision to take effect. He said that a committee would be set up comprising youth chiefs of all political parties in the country to discuss the motion on the new voting age. “We need their support. The voting age of 18 has been long-awaited by young Malaysians. Although we have different political views, I am sure we can be united in youth empowerment,” he said.

Malaysia’s growth performance to remain healthy in 2018 – Moody’s
Moody’s Investors Service says Malaysia’s growth performance is likely to remain healthy in 2018, which is reflected in the country’s credit rating. Its Vice-President and Senior Analyst for Sovereign Risk Group, Anushka Shah, said Malaysia, with an A3 credit profile, was among the fastest-growing A-rated sovereigns. However, she noted that growth might slow in 2019. “Here you do have an environment of trade uncertainty, and this could weigh on growth prospects going forward. But we do think that the potential performance remains relatively strong,” she said at a media round-table session in Kuala Lumpur.

UOB named Best Regional Bank of the Year for Belt and Road Initiative in SEA
United Overseas Bank (UOB) has been named Best Regional Bank of the Year for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Southeast Asia at the 2018 Asiamoney New Silk Road Finance Awards. The award was presented to UOB in recognition of its contribution to facilitating regional trade and investment flows by connecting companies to business opportunities arising from the BRI. Established in 1989, Asiamoney magazine is a financial publication focused on banking, investment and capital markets in Asia. The 2018 New Silk Road Finance Awards ceremony was held in Beijing on 18 September 2018.