Malaysia in discussion with Goldman Sachs on 1MDB assets recovery

Effective recovery of 1MDB assets remains key priority for govt


THE government has confirmed that senior executives of Goldman Sachs Group Inc are in Malaysia to resume discussions on state-owned 1Malaysian Development Bhd’s (1MDB) settlement deal.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz (picture) said he hopes these discussions will be fruitful and enable the government to move closer towards achieving the desired results on 1MDB assets recovery.

“This week, senior representatives from Goldman Sachs have flown into Malaysia to continue discussions and negotiations with the government.

“We are taking every action and step to ensure a recovery value that is fair and just for the Malaysian people,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Tengku Zafrul said the government is fully committed to ensuring the recovery of 1MDB assets.

“The effective recovery of 1MDB assets remains a key priority for the Malaysian government. As part of these efforts, the administration has proactively taken action across multiple countries and organisations,” he said.

Additionally, he added that the government, led by Malaysia’s Attorney General’s Chamber (AGC), has also been conducting ongoing discussions and negotiations with multiple international organisations, including Goldman Sachs.

A report by an international media last week stated that the top Goldman’s executives obtained special travel passes and visas to enter Malaysia for these negotiations and will meet AG Tan Sri Idrus Harun, who heads the recovery team for Malaysia.

Goldman Sachs along with 17 current and former directors of its units have been charged by Malaysian prosecutors in December 2018 for allegedly misleading investors over bond sales totalling US$6.5 billion (RM27.95 billion) that the US bank helped raise for sovereign wealth fund 1MDB.

False and misleading statements were given during the fundraising exercise for 1MDB, with the scheme alleged to have been set up in conspiracy with other individuals such as fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low.

In February this year, three units of Goldman Sachs pleaded not guilty in Malaysian court to those charges.

Both Malaysian and US authorities have stated that about US$4.5 billion was looted from 1MDB between 2009 and 2014 in a scandal that has also embroiled Goldman Sachs between 2009 and 2015.

Tengku Zafrul on July 9, 2020, said Malaysia is still seeking compensation from Goldman in the range of US$2 billion to US$7.5 billion as settlement over the latter’s role in the 1MDB scandal.

He has said in the past that Malaysia would only look to settle provided the number is “fair”.

To date, Malaysia has recovered just over US$200 million from the US Department of Justice and another US$150 million from the sale proceeds of seized assets, such as the super yacht Equanimity.

Separately, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun clarified that his letter seeking former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s attendance in Parliament to the Kuala Lumpur High Court was a request and not an order.

He said the Pekan MP was scheduled to deliver his speech on the Royal Address in the Dewan Rakyat at 3.40pm on July 16, in response to Chang Lih Kang (Pakatan Harapan-Tanjong Malim) who sought the Speaker’s clarification in the chamber on the matter.

“Given that Pekan MP was scheduled to speak at that time, I made a request to the High Court judge to consider allowing him to be in Parliament. That was it. It was not an order,” Azhar said.

Najib’s application to be exempted from the 1MDB trial to attend Parliament on July 16 was initially denied by the High Court.

However, Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah later allowed the trial to end earlier than usual on that day after reading a letter from the Dewan Rakyat Speaker requesting the lawmaker’s attendance in Parliament.