KUALA LUMPUR: Arul Kanda Kandasamy took a pay cut to join 1MDB, said former prime minister Najib Razak, following a claim by the Ministry of Finance that the former 1MDB CEO was offered a remuneration package worth RM5 million this year.
Najib said Arul was earning a higher salary in his previous job with an Abu Dhabi-based bank.
“So he took a pay cut to join 1MDB,” he said.
Arul was an executive vice-president and head of investment banking at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank before he was appointed to head the troubled state firm, which has been under investigation in several countries.
Arul’s contract with 1MDB was terminated by the Pakatan Harapan government on June 28, just two days before its expiry.
Yesterday, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said Arul was offered a payment of RM5 million for a six-month period between January and June this year, in a package approved by Najib.
Najib today defended Arul, saying he had succeeded in reducing 1MDB’s debt from RM50 billion to RM30 billion.
“So he has accomplished that as part of his responsibilities. You must see it in the context that whatever was paid to him was much smaller than what he was earning before he joined 1MDB,” Najib told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
Lim said Arul had been paid RM2.5 million as an advance, with the remaining RM2.5 million to be paid after June 30.
Meanwhile, Najib denied that he frequently travelled to China to meet wanted businessman Low Taek Jho, or more commonly known as Jho Low, who has been at the centre of the investigations into 1MDB.
The Wall Street Journal quoted a former officer in the Prime Minister’s Office who said that Najib had met Low in May 2017 on the sidelines of a forum in Beijing to discuss infrastructure projects involving China.
The report also mentioned that Najib would regularly travel to China at the time to meet Jho Low, despite the businessman not holding any government position.