KUALA LUMPUR: The war of words over the remuneration for the former boss of 1MDB continued today between Najib Razak and Lim Guan Eng, after the latter demanded the ex-prime minister show proof that Arul Kanda’s salary at the state firm was lower than what he earned as a senior investment banker in the Middle East.
Najib repeated his claim that it was an attempt at diversion, saying Lim’s reputation was on the line after his special officer Tony Pua accused China Petroleum Pipeline Company (CPPC) of being involved in a scam under the guise of oil pipeline projects in Malaysia, a claim the giant Chinese firm has strongly denied.
“Perhaps Guan Eng should not forget about the other part of what I told FMT two days ago where I had questioned him about the China petroleum pipeline company’s statement implying he and Tony Pua lied and tried to defame the company,” Najib told FMT, the latest in a series of tit-for-tat over some RM5 million promised to Arul.
Najib said Lim and Pua should instead clear their names by showing proof that CPPC “had collaborated with my BN government to engage in overcharging, round-tripping and money-laundering”.
“If they cannot do this, they should stop twisting and throwing politically-motivated allegations against the previous BN government and damage international and trade relations,” said Najib. “When will you want to stop spinning and start governing?”
Najib again accused the finance minister of twisting his words, but insisted that Arul’s salary as a top investment banker was higher than what he received at 1MDB.
But he denied ever saying that Arul had been paid RM10 million a year, as claimed by Lim.
“Guan Eng is blatantly twisting my words and lying again,” the former leader told FMT.
He said Arul was paid RM5 million as bonus to cover his total years with 1MDB, as well as to appreciate his achievements in bringing down the company’s debt, since he was made the CEO in 2015.
“I had clearly said that the RM5 million bonus was for the three-and-a-half year term that he helmed 1MDB, and for his role in the restructuring. Again, I stress that his monthly salary is much lower,” said Najib.
The spat between Lim and Najib was sparked by a revelation last week that Arul had been promised a RM5 million payment covering a six-month period up to June 30 this year, when his contract ended.
Arul’s contract abruptly ended when Pakatan Harapan government sacked him just two days short of its expiry.
After Lim questioned the huge sum, Najib defended it by saying it was an ex-gratia payment for Arul who had been earning more as head of investment at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank.
Najib also accused Lim of being vindictive, and questioned Lim’s action of revealing details of the contract which was confidential.