KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) US$1.103 billion (RM3.91 billion) that was redeemed from its offshore account in the Cayman Islands into a Singaporean bank is not in actual cash but assets, according to the Finance Ministry.
In a written parliamentary reply to Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua on March 10, the ministry stated that the funds were fully redeemed and currently kept in BSI Bank Limited Singapore (BSI Singapore) in the form of US dollars.
But in another written reply yesterday to Pua, the ministry said the amount was not in cash but assets.
“1MDB has explained that the remainder of the investments, which have been redeemed by 1MDB, is in the form of assets in US dollars in a bank in Singapore with the purpose of balancing the liability of the US dollar,” the Finance Ministry said.
At a press conference today, Pua claimed that this was an admission that 1MDB had no actual cash left in BSI Singapore.
“It is paper assets, not cash. An admission that we have no cash in BSI Singapore, and an admission of our investment in Cayman Islands is to put very crudely, bulls***,” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP told reporters.
“What is the balance in the form of paper assets? We want to know.
“1MDB has to explain this because we have been led to believe that there is cash in Singapore,” Pua added.
Earlier this year, 1MDB CEO Arul Kanda Kandasamy said the state investment fund will not repatriate the US$1.103 billion it redeemed from the Cayman Islands as the money will be used to service the firm’s debt interest payments.
Arul Kanda had said it was only “sensible” that the money stays in US dollars.
The US$1.103 billion is the second tranche of funds in 1MDB’s Cayman Islands foray, which totalled US$2.32 billion (RM8.23 billion).
1MDB, a brainchild of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is currently the subject of an investigation by the Auditor-General’s Department and in line for further scrutiny by Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee.