KUALA LUMPUR: Alex Turnbull, the son of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has claimed he was sidelined at Goldman Sachs after he raised questions about deals involving 1MDB.
“Whistleblowing is a shit business,” he told The Australian in recounting what happened to him.
According to the report, in 2012 and 2013, Alex was working in Singapore at Goldman Sachs when the organisation raised bonds for 1MDB worth US$6 billion. Alex, however, was not involved in the transactions.
The Australian said the 1MDB deals, organised by senior banker Tim Leissner, were extremely lucrative for Goldman Sachs, reaping it almost US$590 million in fees and commissions. Leissner, who resigned in February 2016, was later banned by Singapore from the securities industry for ten years over the transactions.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) alleges that US$2.62 billion of the bond proceeds were pillaged by Malaysian elites and is continuing a probe into the case. Its latest action was to seize, with the help of Indonesia, a luxury yacht, The Equanimity, said to belong to Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, who, the DoJ says, is the mastermind behind the affair.
Alex told The Australian he raised concerns with colleagues about the high price and the lack of clarity in offer documents about the use of the funds.
He said when the 1MDB deal was done with Goldman, he sent an email to some of his colleagues asking what was going on. “The pricing is nuts, what is the use of funds?” he had asked.
For doing so, he claimed, he received a “talking-to” by the firm’s compliance officials. He said he was “B-tracked” as a result. He worked for Goldman Sachs’ special situations division from 2010 to 2014, when he resigned to start his own Singapore-based hedge fund, Keshik Capital.
The report said the revelation could complicate relations between Malaysia and Australia, especially as Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop had been working to enhance relations with Malaysia which it regards as a key ally in the battle against terrorism.
His statement, The Australian said, could make for awkward scenes when Malcolm Turnbull plays host to a special Asean summit next weekend in Sydney.