Aug 172014

35308e9 - Two Arrests for Alleged Theft from #MH370 Victims

A bazaar twist to the missing MH370 mystery is Malaysian police have arrested a bank officer and her husband over allegations they stole about $34,850 from the accounts of four passengers on the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an official said on August 15.

An experienced bank officer for ten years and her husband have been held in police custody since Thursday on suspicion of withdrawing 110,643 ringgit ($34,850) from the accounts of two Malaysian and two Chinese MH370 victims, said Zainuddin Ahmad, a district police chief in Kuala Lumpur.

Police are also looking for another suspect, a Pakistani man, who allegedly had electronically transferred a portion of the stolen money into his bank account, Zainuddin Ahmad added.

“We believe he is still in the country. But as to the full particulars of the case — it’s all still under investigation,” said the Malaysian district police chief to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the French international news agency, headquartered in Paris.

Four bank accounts were with HSBC. HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd said in a statement that the matter was referred by the bank after an internal inquiry to the police on August 2, reports The Star Daily. HSBC officials have not been reached for further comment.

The 33-year-old HSBC employee and her husband were held after a manager noticed suspicious activity at a Kuala Lumpur branch, according to The Mirror and the Australian News Service.

It is believed that $34,850 of the Malaysia Airlines passenger’s cash assets were electronically transferred into an account under the name of Ali Faran on July 14, and subsequently withdrawn at a local branch.

“Faran is believed to be a foreigner, because a passport was used to open an account,” an unnamed source has said to AFP News. “More individuals are believed to be involved and we are trying to identify them.”

A bank in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, reported the apparent discrepancies allegedly in the suspects’ accounts on July 18, before lodging a police complaint, Assistant Commissioner to the crime investigation department Izany Abdul Ghany revealed, reports The Mirror.

It is also alleged that the bank worker approved the MH370 passenger victim’s ATM card renewal application and allegedly gave Ali Faran a new card to make withdrawals.

The source added it was “possible” that other MH370 passengers had been affected.

Assistant Commissioner Izany Abdul Ghany from Kuala Lumpur police said they were investigating all angles, including the possibility that it was an insider job.

According to Australian News Service, the transactions were apparently made on July 18, when money from the accounts of three passengers was transferred to the account of a fourth passenger before it was removed.

“We are investigating the case as unauthorized access with intent to commit an offence,” Izany said, according to The Mirror. Unauthorized access to private bank accounts, if suspects are proven criminally liable inside a Malaysian court tribunal, is punishable by up to 10 years in a Malaysian prison.

A source told the New Straits Times: “We believe the suspect withdrew the money through the fourth victim’s account via several automated teller machines (ATMs) in the Klang Valley.”

“We are getting [closed-circuit television] CCTV footage from the bank to identify the suspects involved,” Ghany told The Mirror.

The Boeing 777-200, operated as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, carrying 239 passenger and crew, has disappeared with no debris found. As, it now appears that the airliner was diverted off-course on March 8 into the southern Indian Ocean, while the flight was originally en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Tragedies shouldn’t only help us to be good, they should also prompt us to be kind.” – Alain de Botton (2014)

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Photo Credit: Reuters. Under fire: Malaysia Airlines’ commercial director Hugh Dunleavy (center) speaks to journalists about information on flight MH370 in Beijing, China, the day after it disappeared.

Malaysia Airlines Goes Private to Restructure Brand

Upon the death of 298 passengers and crew after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over Donetsk (Ukraine) on July 17, and the disappearance of flight MH370 on March 8, which was carrying 239 passengers and crew, Malaysian Airline System, Bhd will be restructured and privatized to ensure the air carrier remains afloat this year.

A brand name change could allegedly be coming soon for the Malaysian flagship-carrier after the loss of 537 lives in over five months. Majority owned by the Malaysian state-run investor, Khazanah Nasional, officials must seek private restructuring and new investors to rebuild the suffering southeast Asia air carrier.

Khazanah confirmed it wanted to buy the shares it does not already own in Malaysia Airlines, to delist from the Kuala Lumpur market the southeast Asia air carrier, and to carry out a “complete overhaul” and comprehensive re-branding, says Breaking Travel News.

Private ownership will give its parent company room to introduce an appropriate capital structure to meet the airline’s “substantial funding requirements” in the next few years, and to sustain operations amid a high level of debt, Malaysia Airlines has said in an official statement.

“It is easier to restructure if it’s a private company,” Ang Kok Heng, the Kuala Lumpur-based chief investment officer of Phillip Capital Management, said before the announcement on August 8. “They don’t need to worry about making announcements and the timing of it.”

Changes the southeast Asia air carrier is currently discussing are new routes and expanding out-sourcing to increase profitability.

A statement from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said: “This is the first step needed to return our national carrier to profitability.

“It is a step I wholeheartedly support.”

The Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the search for the jetliner, which disappeared on March 8 with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board, would continue, despite the loss of MH17 over Ukraine last month, as reported recently in The Mirror.

He added he would be going to Australia at the end of the month to ensure that the naval search mission for the Malaysia Airlines plane proceeded smoothly.

The Malaysian Defense Minister told reporters: “I’m still waiting for confirmation from the Royal Malaysian Navy on the latest position of the ships KD Mutiara and Bunga Mas 5 before leaving for Perth.

“I wish to inspire our personnel besides giving a signal to family members of the victims that while we are busy with the MH17 crash, we did not forget about the search for MH370.”

The causes of calamity lie … simply with our species’ vulnerability to mishap, with the extreme fragility of our constitution, and [with] the unpredictability of nature. We are reminded that we are only ever a rogue spark, a tenacious germ, a loose tile, or a strong gust of wind away from [eternity].” – Alain de Botton (2014)

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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 Aviation Disaster Recovery and Investigation

Debris from the MH17 crash site in Donetsk (Ukraine) on July 17 was scattered across 35 square kilometers (13 square miles) of rebel-held territory.

“A month after the MH17 air disaster in eastern Ukraine the investigation still has a very long way to go,” BBC’s Anna Holligan reports from The Hague.

Passengers from 10 different countries were on board flight MH17. As two-thirds of the 298 people on board flight MH17 were from The Netherlands, the Dutch have taken the lead in identifying the bodies, in trying to establish what caused the crash, and in running the criminal investigations, says the BBC.

“Never before have we had a murder case with so many victims,” said Wim de Bruin from the Dutch prosecution service, fielding international press inquiries from all over the world.

“Forensic experts have identified the remains of fewer than half of the 298 people who died, underscoring the challenges investigators face, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“On Friday, the Dutch government announced the positive identification of 127 victims. Of this number, 86 victims are Dutch, and the remaining 41 people are from the additional 10 nations with citizens aboard the flight. The Netherlands had the highest death toll in the crash, with 196 victims.” The Wall Street Journal confirms.

According to the BBC, there are three main questions about the eventual MH17 trial: (1) Where will it be conducted? (2) What crimes will the accused be charged with? (3) How long before we see the suspects in court?

International Criminal Court in The Hague will the legal tribunal with ten Dutch prosecutors and 200 police officers involved in gathering and preparing the evidence for a criminal trial.

News of accidents humbles us into acknowledging that, if life is as fragile as this, if we really have no guarantee that there are decades left ahead, then we don’t want to be people, who spend an afternoon arguing with a beloved, who refused to forgive a friend for a minor transgression, or who neglected a genuine talent in favor of an unhappy sinecure [e.g. doddle, easy ride, plum job, or soft option]. The thought of [the dual-crisis of MH370 and MH17] has the power to rearrange our priorities, returning to the surface the more valuable parts of us, which have a tendency to get submerged in the everyday struggles.” – Alain de Botton (2014)

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A courtroom at the International Criminal Court, The Hague. Photo Credit: CC BY Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Flickr.

Wim de Bruin says they are considering “several grounds and possibilities” concerning the charges.

“Of course, [the crime of] ‘murder,’ but we also have the crime of ‘wrecking an airplane.’ And, we could use international criminal law – that would mean possible charges of ‘war crimes,’ ‘torture’ and ‘genocide’.”

Any suspects liable to the MH17 aviation incident would be extradited, pending approval of the suspects home jurisdiction, to face trial at the District Court in The Hague.

Twenty-five experts from Ukraine, Russia, Germany, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, and the United States are working at an undisclosed Dutch Safety Board headquarters in The Hague. These aircraft safety investigators are sorting through an enormous amount of flight recorder data and related “black-box” information to ascertain what destroyed the Boeing 777-200, operating as flight MH17 on June 17.

Wim van der Wegen from the Dutch Safety Board says they already have enough to prepare a preliminary report. “We are using the voice recorder, the black box flight data recorder, satellite images, information from air traffic control and photos taken by people, who were able to visit crash site.”

Dutch Safety Board officials expect to publish the preliminary report of the MH17 aircraft safety investigators’ findings within two weeks. It is anticipated that the Dutch preliminary report will not attribute blame or liability.

From the moment the first remains were repatriated, the Dutch authorities say they have focused on restoring the honor and dignity that was stolen from the families and friends of the 298 loved ones on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

Bringing the perpetrators to justice would help to heal a wound that has cut deep into Dutch society.

As the Dutch continue their MH17 incident investigation, some family members are facing financial hardship.

Entire families—parents and their children—were among those killed on flight MH17, and others were the surviving family’s primary financial support base.

Without a body, remains or an official death certificate, next-of-kin face undue financial duress to collect on personal life insurance policies, to close credit card accounts, or to deal with banks so as to retire student debts or mortgages, says The Wall Street Journal.

To mitigate against financial distress, Dutch prosecutors have submitted documents to a special court in The Hague to initiate an issuance of a ‘blanket death certificate’ to cover all those who perished aboard MH17.

Last week, Malaysia Airlines announced it was offering $5,000 in emergency financial assistance to the next-of-kin of all the 298 passengers and crew on board flight MH17.

In addition, the air carrier announced on August 15, the firm had paid this money to a “majority” of families without releasing specific numbers of people, who received the funds, citing privacy issues.

Under international law and treaties, the families of those killed in an aircraft accident have the right to collect at least $70,000 from the airline responsible for the flight, and perhaps much more compensation, if the airline is proven to be negligent in some matter, reports The Wall Street Journal.

When a plane has just crash … we may reflexively start to respond in the manner of an air accident investigator or a panicked relative, rather than remember that this is not in fact really any of our business … that we allow the disasters of strangers to become excuses or means by which we avoid our responsibilities to ourselves … whatever the news may suggest and however immediate, alarming and touching its tale can be, the problems it raises are not always our own.” – Alain de Botton (2014)

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Photo Credit: Taken on July 28, 2013, at Shanghai Pudong Airport, by Steven Richardson, aviation analyst at, of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, Registration Number 9M-MRD, which is reported by Malaysia Airlines as the aircraft of Flight 17, which crashed on July 17, 2014.

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