China offered to bail out Malaysia’s 1MDB fund, WSJ says

Senior Chinese leaders offered to help bail out Malaysia’s state-owned 1MDB investment fund in 2016, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing minutes from meetings it reviewed.

Chinese officials told visiting Malaysians that China would use its influence to try and get the U.S. and other countries to drop probes of allegations that allies of then-Prime Minister Najib Razak and others plundered the fund, according to the newspaper.

In return, Malaysia offered stakes in railway and pipeline projects as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The Chinese government information office didn’t respond to requests for comment, the WSJ said, adding that China’s foreign ministry has earlier denied that money in the program was used to help bail out the 1MDB fund.

1MDB is at the center of a global scandal involving claims of embezzlement and money laundering, with jurisdictions from the U.S., Malaysia and Singapore probing cases related to the fund. Najib has been charged with dozens of counts of corruption, criminal breach of trust and money laundering involving 1MDB-related monies.

He also stands accused of altering the report on a government audit into the fund to protect himself from criminal, civil or regulatory action. He has denied wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty to all charges.

China also offered to bug the homes and offices of Wall Street Journal reporters in Hong Kong who were investigating 1MDB, to learn who was leaking information to them, the newspaper said, citing the minutes of the meetings. It couldn’t be determined whether China provided any such information, the newspaper added.

–BLOOMBERG / Pic by Muhd Amin Naharul/TMR