The amazing British blogger who managed to bring down a Far Eastern prime minister – and possibly soon a major bank22 January 2019
By Paul Martin
SITTING at the kitchen table of her London flat eight years ago Clare Rewcastle Brown opened her laptop and tentatively started tapping the first words of her first blog.
She had no idea that she would eventually become one of the world’s most powerful bloggers.
Her revelations have led to the collapse of a powerful Far Eastern country’s long-time ruler and a billion pound corruption scandal which could bring down Goldman Sachs.
It led to chilling death threats and her being followed on the streets of London.
She has been subjected to horrific sexual and racist abuse online.
Brave Clare’s extraordinary story has now reached Hollywood and a major film deal is in the offing.
A Hollywood producer wants the big screen to show how her blog toppled the Prime Minister of Malaysia and is set to cause “utter carnage” at one of the richest and biggest investment banks in the world.
“It is certainly unravelling very fast,” said Clare.
“And it’s only just started.
“There will be huge court cases this year which will affect Goldman Sachs and many others.”
Clare’s fighting spirit may have come, she says, from her grandmother – the first woman officer in the British Navy. Or from her mum and dad, who she says had served in Borneo as a young couple “with integrity and commitment”.
It had all begun when Clare became incensed at how the vital-for-the-world oxygen-producing forests of Borneo were being cut down – by companies paying big bribes to political leaders there.
She had been born in the Far East to British parents, but the family returned to Britain when she was a small girl. Still she retained a passion for the beautiful forest and the trees she had seen as a child.
Even she, though, was shocked when she went back to Borneo in 2008 and met up with some downtrodden, bedraggled locals. These Penan tribespeople had lived in the rapidly declining forests being stolen from them, but they now had to survive a miserable hand-to-mouth existence in small villages.
“They were poor and desperate. They were trying with spears and loincloths to hold back those f-ing great lorries.
“The locals gained a small amount of attention by blockading some roads being used by the loggers who were in cahoots with Borneo’s corrupt leaders.
“When police stopped me and three other foreigners, they gave our photos to the local newspaper, controlled by the biggest logging company. It declared: ‘Foreigners are behind many of the blockades’ set up by the locals.”
“I was banned soon afterwards, but I did once slip across the border illegally to meet people.
I realised there was only one way to tell the true story: start a blog. And that’s when I typed my first words – from my London kitchen on a laptop.
“I was only working part-time because I had two boys aged 8 and 10, and was a very hands-on mum. But the internet – just catching on like wildfire in Malaysia – meant I could work on my Borneo project at night and between the cracks.”
She soon discovered that the corruption that decimated the forests of Borneo went right to the top. Former British colony Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak was from an ultra-privileged family – he had been sent to the posh ‘public school’ Harrow as a boarder and his father had also been prime minister.
But, afraid he would lose the next election, he needed to assemble huge funds for his party and for himself – and his ultra-extravagant wife Rosmah.
“I discovered Najib was behind a huge one billion dollar deal made with a company run from near my own flat. And the guy running this fraud was also a British public school boy, using a Saudi royal prince as his cover. I got evidence of an email trail showing Prime Minister Najib and his cronies syphoned off 671 million dollars – and who knows where the rest went?
“I should have realised right then that by uncovering this fraud – and later an even worse one – I was heading for trouble, big trouble.”
“Not only had my blog gone viral in Malaysia, but I’d also managed to set up radio broadcast to the country from London.
“I used an old short-wave frequency I bought for an amazingly cheap price – abut sixty pounds and hour – and got a local Malaysian rebel DJ to come to England and broadcast truth for two hours a day.
“A forest philanthropist charity paid the shot-wave fees.
“The ruling powers were livid, and determined to shut us down. They tried to block our radio signal, and they launched large-scale cyber attacks on my blog.
“One morning my site was blocked, and a notice on it read: “This website is not available in Malaysia as it violates National Law.” But people found other ways to keep reading my blog.
“Fake sites attacking me were set up by major British PR firms, especially Bell Pottinger and FBC Media. I wonder who financed that?
“They were going after me big-time. And their bully-boy tactics went even further. A Mercedes was often parked outside my flat. Men were watching.
“As I tapped out my blog reports from local cafes near my home. stocky white tough-guys with crew-cuts seemed always to be sitting just a table or two away from me.
“The men would just sit there – staring into their iPads. Their ears seemed to prick up whenever I got a phone-call.
“Once I went to meet a deep-throat contact at a different cafe. My contact was already nervous, but when he saw a Chinese-looking man taking snapshots, he feared he would be fingered. The supposed photographer outside was pretending to take pictures of some girls, but I noticed they were not even looking at him. He was trying to photograph us not them.
“I was furious. I should have just picked up my camera and photographed him. Instead I just leaped to my feet and rushed through the door, running at him. Stupidly he kept his pose and snapped away through the window. I shouted at him: “Stop that now.” He just ran off.”
“As I drove back to my flat, I felt again I was being tagged, this time by a large Mercedes.
“I swerved and zigzagged through the London traffic, but the Mercedes did the same., zigzagging on my tail. I managed to dart across traffic into Wilton street and got away.”
“I believe there were 90 Chinese Malay Special Branch operatives working for the Malaysian High Commission in London, and they were onto me.
“My own six foot four inch teenage son said he was feeling frightened by the whole business. I told him to ‘man up’ and remember I was half his size!”
“Meanwhile back in Malaysia they launched a vicious media campaign against me. They got one of my former associates to hold a press conference, to say I had a huge team of forgers inventing documents, and was a total liar.
“What huge team? I was still blogging away from my kitchen with two volunteers, and supporting a one-man short-wave radio ‘station’.
“Another blogger who was now living in England started claiming I was being paid millions to slag off the prime minister and his wife.
“And as I typed my blog in July 2015 I was seeing another prickly-haired thickset man sitting near me, staring into his tablet. Unconvincingly. Anyway, I decided to go the the police.
“ I was no longer willing to tolerate being hounded by a bunch of thugs near my own home in London.
“So I went to the Belgravia police station to ask for protection.
“I was afraid that I’d get a shove in the back and be pushed under an underground train, or under a bus. I was not sure what the final instructions had been to the thugs.
“I said to the police: If you find my body floating in the Thames, please note that it was certainly not suicide.”
“They thought I was pretty mad to begin with. After all, I am a middle aged middle-class woman. “
“The police took the thought of thugs tracking down a middle aged lady, following her and potentially murdering her, with a pinch of salt.
“They did eventually take a statement . Soon afterwards I got a call from another higher-up policeman. “Why didn’t you tell us who you are?” he asked.
“He’d apparently discovered that I am the sister-in-law of [former PM] Gordon Brown. I said that would have been name-dropping. But they felt since Gordon did visit our apartment from time to time they should get another police team involved in protecting me.”
“I found out that a guy called Jho Low, a corrupt mystery Malaysian billionaire was linked to the British company syphoning off money from Malaysia’s wealth fund. I found out too that this guy had put 100 million dollars into a major Hollywood movie, The Wolf of Wall Street. I started digging.
“That included me slipping into a house in Hollywood that had cost 30 million dollars and was being rebuilt.
“I got in during a lunch-break by pretending to be delivering bricks. The pictures showed that the Malaysian prime minister’s young stepson – who’d never had a proper job – s) had bought a house worth tens of millions of dollars.
“The film starred Leonardo Di Caprio, who got a Golden Globe award for it. And Leonardo also got huge fees for being at parties and events run by Jho Low.
“I started to pinpoint the lies, and ignored lots of nasty legal letters.
“Goldman Sachs helped to float power-generating companies on behalf of the country’s wealth fund. Goldman Sachs got a ridiculously high payment of around 600 million dollars for that. I was calling them out since 2013 but until Najib and his puppet government was amazingly toppled in July last year, no-one thought anyone would get into trouble for this deal.
“That immediately meant a new government that’s cooked Goldman Sachs’ goose. The Malaysian government has a criminal prosecution against Goldman Sachs.
“Now they’re blaming their top man in Asia, who’s been sacked. But the allegation is that the bank itself must have known how they were earning fortunes from funny money. Of course the shares, costing 6.5 billion dollars, have turned out to be worthless.
“I got a treasure trove of discs from a former banker. But my source was later slung in jail in another country. A British former SAS man who ran what was politely called a ‘concierge agency’, was one of two British who trapped him, then made his sign a false allegation against me. Instead of getting him freed from jail, this source of mine ended up getting years inside.”
“I also found out that Tony Blair had become a consultant to the Malaysian wealth fund, and saw a contract offering him a whopping 65,000 dollars a month plus 2 percent of any oil deals.
“I got details of the bank account where the Malaysian prime minister had hidden his 681 million dollars.
[NOTE: PAUL MARTIN – I HAVE GOT PHOTOS OF THE TWO BOYS AS SMALL KIDS, AND ONE OF ALEX AGED 21, WITH MUM AND BY HIMSELF, WEARING A T-SHIRT WITH BIG PORTRAIT EMBLAZONED ON IT OF CORRUPT PRIME MINISTER NAJIB RAZAK. CARTOONIST WHO DID THAT PORTRAIT WAS ARRESTED]
The rest is history. I had vicious blowback for another six months from Malaysia, but the game was up. In 2016 the FBI and the Deportment of Justice launched a case against the Malaysian wealth fund.”
Prosecutors say hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund appeared in Najib’s personal account and was spent on luxury items, including a 22-carat pink diamond necklace, worth $27.3 million, for his wife. In all some $7.5 billion was stolen from the fund, prosecutors say, and spent on paintings by Monet, Van Gogh and Warhol and others, worth over 200 million dollars, on luxury properties in the US, and even on a luxury yacht worth over 200 million dollars.
To every expert’s surprise, Clare’s revelations – and the American Justice Department’s revelations – had a devastating effect on the May 2018 elections. Prime Minister Najib and his money-grabbing wife Rosmah were swept from power in a landslide defeat – and his part y that had ruled Malaysia since 1957, soon after British colonial rule end, was out of office.
The police have raided the former prime minister’s house and confiscated Hermes handbags and other jewellery Rosmah amassed work much more than even the shoe collection of the other deposed leader’s wife, Imelda Marcos of the Philippines.
Suddenly Clare was feted in Malaysia as a hero, and has been back, greeted triumphantly in the streets and by the country’s new rulers.
“My next ambition is to start the campaign to find ways to roll back the destruction of the Borneo jungle – to compensate the Malaysian government if they can stop and reverse the destruction. And do the same in other vital rainforests. This is the only way to combat the expected catastrophic rise in world temperatures.
“And just to think – we’re talking here in this little kitchen ion my flat – where it al l started!”
FOR FURTHER INFO
See New York Times May 15 2018:
The details released from that investigation in the past three years painted a lurid picture of a Malaysian leader and his family members and friends living high on diverted public money.
Prosecutors say that hundreds of millions of dollars from the fund appeared in Mr. Najib’s personal account and was spent on luxury items, including a 22-carat pink diamond necklace, worth $27.3 million, for his wife. In all some $7.5 billion was stolen from the fund, prosecutors say, and spent on paintings by Monet, Van Gogh and Warhol and others worth over $200 million; on luxury real estate in the United States; and even on a megayacht for a family friend, Jho Low, who revealed in his Hollywood connections.
Those accusations, and others, became grist for social media outrage in Malaysia, frequently on private WhatsApp groups, but it seemed Mr. Najib still underestimated how much he was losing: a public that still valued some semblance of moderation, his once unbreakable Malay power base, even family members.
Mr. Najib’s stepdaughter, Azrene Ahmad, took to Instagram on Friday with an emotional condemnation of him and her mother, Rosmah Mansor, who had become widely known here for piling up designer labels, garlands of jewellery and a multimillion-dollar handbag collection that more than rivalled the shoe fetish of Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of the Philippines.
“Today marks the end of a day of tyranny that many have prayed for,” Ms. Azrene wrote, describing how she had “witnessed many trespasses, deals and handshakes these two made for the benefit of power and to fuel their appetite for greed.”
“The numerous offshore accounts opened to launder money out of the country for their personal spending,” she continued, cataloging her accusations against them. “The steel safes full of jewels, precious stones and cash amassed. Being made a cash mule.”