All-out to recover lost money
EFFORTS to recover stolen money from the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) have kicked on ever since Pakatan Harapan formed the new government.
Without wasting time, one of the priorities of the current government was to throw the book at those responsible for stealing money and defrauding 1MDB.
Apart from filing legal charges against individuals in Malaysia for corruption and violation of the country’s laws, the Attorney General’s office has also swung into action to recover the stolen money by first confiscating where it can assets that were bought using the illegally obtained cash from 1MDB.
The Equanimity, a super luxury yacht, is now up for auction and the proceeds will be channelled back to the government. The Attorney General’s office is also applying to the High Court in London for an order to set aside a consent award to International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) and Aabar Investments PJS recorded in May last year by an arbitration tribunal sitting there. Under the consent award, Malaysia is obliged to pay US$5.78bil (RM24.16bil) to IPIC and the bond trustee over a five-year period.
So far, US$1.46bil (RM6.1bil) has been paid, leaving a balance of US$4.32bil (RM18.06bil), with the next interest payment of US$50mil (RM209mil) due on Nov 11.
The government should also launch a legal challenge to recover monies that were stolen by executives of Goldman Sachs in raising US$6.5bil in debt for 1MDB. Tim Leissner, who was the former chairman of Goldman Sachs in South-East Asia, has pleaded guilty to criminal charges in the US. Roger Ng, his deputy, has been arrested in Malaysia for extradition to the US and is said to be fighting that order. Large sums of money have also been confiscated from their accounts.
The same principle in fighting the arbitration award with IPIC should also apply to Goldman Sachs, which is reported to have made US$600mil in fees from its dealings with 1MDB. The fact that Leissner pleaded guilty to fraud and the Department of Justice in the US in its charge said a staggering US$2.7bil was diverted to bribes and kick- backs to people in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi should be grounds for action by Malaysia.
Goldman Sach though has acknowledged that it is facing a large fine by the US authorities, and Malaysia too should take action against the firm where high-level executives at the firm had acted to cheat the people of Malaysia.