Malaysia intends to recover all stolen assets from the scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) sovereign wealth fund, according to the new finance minister, who said more revelations were coming.
The authorities were investigating whether there were grounds for claims against firms like Goldman Sachs that profited from dealing with 1MDB, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.
The state fund has been blamed for contributing to national debt and liabilities of more than US$251 billion, according to the new government of Mahathir Mohamad.
Lim said a strategy was “on the table” to ask individuals and political parties to return 1MDB assets, while he personally blamed former prime minister Najib Razak.
Najib denies any wrongdoing.
Lim said US$600 million was paid in fees to Goldman Sachs for raising nearly US$6.5 billion in three separate bond sales in 2012 and 2013, exceeding the normal fees of 1 or 2 per cent.
“We will be looking at the possibility of seeking claims from Goldman Sachs, where there are grounds to do so,” Lim said.
Najib was fully responsible for the problems, liable for the billions of dollars of debts faced by the “insolvent” fund, the former Penang state chief minister said.
“I would personally think that he is fully responsible,” Lim said. “Only the finance minister can authorise these transactions. Of course, this is a matter for the investigative panel to decide, and if they think that charges are necessary, for the court to decide.
“So much as I feel that the buck stops at the former finance minister’s [Najib] desk, we let investigation and due process take its course.”
Meanwhile, the probe into the seizure of valuables from a luxury apartment in Jalan Raja Chulan in Kuala Lumpur in relation to 1MDB was ongoing, investigators said.
Amar Singh, the Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department director, said the police were still identifying, authenticating and valuing watches, jewellery and other valuables seized on May 17.
“We have not yet finished with the authentication and valuation processes,” he said, asking for patience.
Around 433 watches were purportedly found in 37 bags seized from the flat.
The media reported that a single seized Rolex had cost US$880,000.
Lim told the media that the national finances were far worse than he and his team had imagined.
“You know, the first file that they gave to me to sign was to pay 1MDB debts. Then I was thinking I was signing something that would benefit ordinary people. Instead, I have to sign the debt payment by the Malaysian government on behalf of 1MDB,” Lim added.
“Then I said, ‘I’m not going to do that’ … The first document or the first approval that I sign, I don’t want it to be 1MDB. But I signed that later, of course.”