KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government has been cheated out of full restitution in the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal by Goldman Sachs (GS) by settling for US$2.5 billion (RM10.3 billion), DAP’s Lim Guan Eng claimed today.
The former finance minister insisted the government should have stuck with the previous Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration’s demand for at least US$7.5 billion.
“The present federal government was clearly duped by GS, when it should have stuck to the PH government’s demand for a full restitution of at least US$7.5 billion.
By settling for only US$2.5 billion or a third of the original claim of US$7.5 billion, the Finance Ministry has sold the people short,” he said in a statement.
Lim’s statement comes on the heels of a report by Al Jazeera that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) was seeking to recover an additional US$300 million in assets linked to the 1MDB scandal.
He pointed out that the US DoJ has so far helped Malaysia recover nearly US$1.1 billion in assets.
He also said GS has publicly asserted that the US$1.4 billion guarantee that Malaysia would receive from assets related to 1MDB will not likely cause it to make any significant payments.
Lim said this exposure is likely limited to the US$2.5 billion cash payment committed by GS.
He added that GS “has cleverly secured a good deal at the Malaysian government’s expense” to clear 17 of its current and former directors charged with criminal fraud in connection to 1MDB.
Al Jazeera previously reported the US DoJ saying that it had traced the assets to an escrow account in the United Kingdom from credit extended by Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela to Saudia Arabia’s PetroSaudi Oil Services, in connection to an oil-drilling venture.
Petroleos and PetroSaudi are embroiled in a high profile legal dispute with regards to ownership of the US$300 million funds.
On July 16, the High Court here granted the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) an interim order prohibiting any movement of the contested funds in the UK, which the agency then used to apply for an injunction through the UK court system.
However, the same court accepted PetroSaudi Venezuela’s application to amend the interim order a month later, allowing it to withdraw the same funds that investigators alleged to have been misappropriated from 1MDB.
The Malaysian government’s action was launched under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
Tarek was also named as a respondent as the co-founder of PetroSaudi International Ltd (PSI) , the parent company of PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela).
He has been accused of involvement in the 1MDB scandal but has maintained his innocence throughout.
The MACC and British investigators filed for the injunction in July, to prevent Tarek and PSI from withdrawing the funds held in escrow by the Clyde & Co LLP firm in the UK.