KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been offered compensation by the multinational investment bank, Goldman Sachs, over the 1MDB scandal, but according to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the sum is not reasonable.
In a Bloomberg interview today at the Asean Business Summit – The Future of Malaysia and Asean in Bangkok, he said the amount that was stolen was about US$6.9 billion (RM28.7 billion) in total, including fees for Goldman Sachs.
“Goldman offered RM1 billion but they made 10% from it,” he said.
When asked by moderator Haslinda Amin, what would be a reasonable sum, Mahathir said that it would have to be at least 10% of the total US$6.9 billion.
When asked if the government is mulling a civil suit on top of the criminal suit, he said that that depends on the attorney-general (AG).
“We would have to examine the case, before taking any action. It is up to the AG to take action,” he said.
On Dec 17, the government filed criminal charges against three subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs Inc over their handling of bonds totalling US$6.5 billion issued by 1MDB.
This was the first time a country has filed criminal charges against the US investment banking giant itself.
It was reported that Goldman Sachs made US$600 million in fees for handling the bonds related to 1MDB.
In terms of recovering the lost money, the prime minister said that it was difficult to get all of it back because the money was stolen and the government does not know where it is.
“If the money is invested in something, we can go to the company and ask for the money back, but the money is stolen and we don’t know where it is.
“They are not telling us (where the money is) and a number of people have handled the money. Unless we can squeeze them, we would not know where it is,” he said.
According to AG Tommy Thomas, Malaysia has thus far recovered US$322 million — equivalent to about RM1.3 billion worth of assets belonging to 1MDB.
Mahathir also vowed to continue helping the Rohingya attempting to reach his shores.
“They are refugees. As much as we can do for them, we will,” the 93-year-old premier told reporters.
“We hope something can be done to stop the oppression of the Rohingya,” he said when asked by AFP.
A deal for the Rohingya to return to Myanmar has largely stalled as virtually no Rohingya have chosen to return due to security fears.
Still, an Asean-commissioned report leaked earlier this month to AFP predicted repatriation efforts would be complete in two years.
Mahathir also cast doubts over the timeline.
“If we can do it in two years, we will,” he said, though he was “not so sure” about whether conditions on the ground remain favourable for the group’s repatriation.
More than 740,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August 2017, flooding into neighbouring Bangladesh with accounts of rape, mass killings and the razing of villages.
Myanmar refuses to grant them citizenship or basic rights, and refers to them as “Bengali”, inferring that the Rohingya are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
UN investigators have called for Myanmar’s top generals to be tried for genocide, but Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi has defended the military’s crackdown as necessary to flush out militants in Rakhine state.