The 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal has claimed an unlikely scalp: the son of Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
The Australian newspaper reports Turnbull’s son, Alex, as saying he was sidelined from his executive position at Goldman Sachs after acting as a whistle-blower on allegedly shady deals involving billions between the global investment bank and the Malaysian state investor.
In 2012 and 2013, while Alex was working at Goldman Sachs in Singapore, the bank raised US$6 billion (RM24 billion) in bonds for 1MDB, in deals organised by senior banker Tim Leissner.
The bank earned US$590 million in fees and commissions from the 1MDB deal.
Alex, who was not involved in the bond dealings, said he raised concerns with colleagues about the high price, as well as the lack of clarity in offer documents on the use of the money.
“When the 1MDB deal was done with Goldman Sachs, I sent an email to some of my colleagues, saying, ‘What the f**k is going on with this? The pricing is nuts, what is the use of funds?” he was quoted as saying.
“And I got a talking-to by compliance.”
He said he was then “B-tracked”, after which he resigned from the bank.
“Whistleblowing is a s*** business.”
The US Department of Justice said US$2.62 billion of the bond proceeds were stolen by the Malaysian elite.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who chaired 1MDB advisory board, has denied any wrongdoing in the scandal.
Alex’s remarks could cast a pall over an Asean summit in Sydney next weekend, which Najib is expected to attend.
They also come as international investigators zero in on Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, the alleged mastermind of the plot to plunder 1MDB. Indonesian police last week seized Low’s luxury yacht, Equanimity, off the coast of Bali.
Leissner, who resigned from Goldman Sachs in 2016, was last year banned by Singaporean and US authorities from the financial services industry for 10 years over an allegedly unauthorised letter he wrote on bank letterhead pledging support for Low.
The bank raised US$3.5 billion for 1MDB in 2012 through two tranches of bonds, codenamed “Project Magnolia” and “Project Maximus”.
Much of the money was earmarked for the purchase of energy assets, but in court documents, the DoJ said US$1.367 billion had been misappropriated by being sent to a Swiss bank account.
The DoJ said through transactions in tax havens worldwide, US$30 million was allegedly deposited in the accounts of “Malaysian Official 1”, whom a minister admitted is Najib, while US$238 million was allegedly sent to Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz.
Riza is accused of using the funds to buy luxury real estate and bankroll movies, including The Wolf of Wall Street.
Low is also accused of withdrawing more than US$1.15 million of the money at the Venetian Casino in Las Vegas during a gambling spree with a group that included Wolf star Leonardo DiCaprio.
In March 2013, under the moniker “Project Catalyze”, Goldman Sachs issued additional bonds for 1MDB worth US$3 billion, of which DoJ investigators said US$1.26 billion was stolen.
An offer circular shows that the funds were supposed to be invested in a joint venture with a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi-owned International Petroleum Investment Company and came with the unusual warning that the venture “has not identified a specific use for the proceeds of this offering”.
The DoJ said shortly after the bond sale, US$681 million was diverted to Najib’s AmBank account in Malaysia.
Some US$620 million was then allegedly sent back offshore, but the department said US$27.3 million of the total was paid to a Monaco jeweller for the purchase of a pink diamond pendant and necklace set for Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor.
Alex also referred to the 2006 murder of Mongolian model and translator Altantuya Shaariibuu, reported to be the lover of a former Najib confidant, Abdul Razak Baginda.
Razak has been acquitted of the murder, in which the Mongolian was taken to the jungle, shot twice and blown up with C4 explosives.
“How many Mongolian models did we have to bury in the jungle for this pricing?” he told The Australian. – Source The Malaysian Insight March 8, 2018.