Mahathir says no to Goldman’s 1MDB offer of under $2 billion to Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia has rejected an offer from Goldman Sachs <GS.N> of less than $2 billion in compensation over the 1MDB scandal, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the Financial Times on Friday, compared with its publicly stated demand of $7.5 billion.
The Southeast Asian nation has charged Goldman and 17 current and former directors of its units for allegedly misleading investors over bond sales totalling $6.5 billion that the U.S. bank helped raise for sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
“Goldman Sachs has offered something like less than $2 billion,” Mahathir told the newspaper. “We are not satisfied with that amount so we are still talking to them . . . If they respond reasonably we might not insist on getting that $7.5 billion”.
Goldman declined to comment to the FT. The bank did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment. Goldman said last month it was in discussions with authorities on the possibility of a resolution of investigations relating to 1MDB.
A spokesman for Mahathir travelling with the leader could not immediately be reached.
U.S. authorities say about $4.5 billion was siphoned from 1MDB, founded in 2009 by then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. The scandal helped Mahathir hand a surprise defeat to Najib in a general election last year.
Mahathir told the FT the Southeast Asian country was not negotiating or in contact with fugitive financier Jho Low, accused of playing a central role in the scam.
Low has consistently denied wrongdoing and says he does not expect a fair trial in Malaysia as long as Mahathir is in power.
The U.S. Justice Department said this week it had struck a deal to recover $1 billion in funds allegedly looted from 1MDB from Low, in a record haul for a U.S. anti-corruption probe.
The deal does not include an admission of guilt or wrongdoing and is not tied to criminal action against Low.
Mahathir said on Thursday Malaysia would file a claim on Low’s forfeited assets.
“The DoJ has indicated that if we can prove claim of ownership, then we will be able to get the money for ourselves,” Mahathir told the FT.
(Reporting by Ismail Shakil; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)