it is time for Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim to revisit and reopen the controversial Goldman Sachs settlement reached with the Malaysian government over 1MDB in July 2020 when Muhyiddin Yassin was prime minister and Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz was the finance minister.
Tied in with this is a horrendous allegation which, if true, will mean that one prime minister benefited from an attempt to negotiate a settlement in the billions of dollars with one of the world’s largest financiers and wheeler-dealers caused by the crooked dealings of another.
Just imagine the enormity of the crimes – one PM – Najib Abdul Razak – causes the loss of as much as RM40 billion through the self-styled strategic development company 1MDB.
Then another PM, Muhyiddin, compromises a settlement with one of those complicit in the crime – Goldman Sachs – which may run into billions of ringgit.
This is no concoction – it may well be true and only a thorough and impartial investigation by those who are honest and competent will eventually reveal whether it is or not.
For a start, Anwar must forthwith make public the settlement with Goldman Sachs and all payments made, especially since Kuang assemblyperson Sallehudin Amiruddin said in March 2021 that the authorities should investigate allegations that an RM500 million donation was made to Muhyiddin’s party, Bersatu, by a prominent lawyer handling the settlement with Goldman Sachs.
Press reports at the time said Malaysia was represented at the talks with Goldman Sachs by Attorney-General Idrus Azizan Harun and then solicitor-general II Siti Zainab Omar.
They were reported to have been assisted by Rosli Dahlan and DP Naban, the two senior partners of Rosli Dahlan Sarvana Partnership and also “chief legal trouble-shooters” for Muhyiddin Yassin.
The amount paid to the lawyers was never disclosed, and the non-disclosure agreement with Goldman Sachs was used as an excuse.
It is right to re-visit the dodgy 1MDB settlement with Goldman Sachs, along with all the other dodgy looking deals driven through during the pandemic by the coup coalition government of Muhyiddin Yassin.
It is clear, with the Bersatu bank accounts now frozen and RM96.2 billion worth of contracts now under review, that Malaysia’s anti corruption authorities are doing just that.
Meanwhile, the new prime minister has indicated he has grounds to open proceedings against the bank for reneging even on the unsatisfactory deal that was arrived at – a move that might open a whole can of worms for the American banking giant.
Back in July 2020 the newly installed coup coalition and its unelected Finance Minister (a friend of the King who is now the unelected Trade Minister) steamrollered a super-swift settlement with Goldman which had just been found culpable in the United States of assisting in defrauding Malaysia of $6.5 billion through 1MDB.
The bank got off astonishingly lightly in this flash resolution by Muhyiddin’s men, with Malaysia settling for a cash payment of just $2.5 billion, whereas the previous administration had been demanding over $9 billion which represented the actual cost of the crime to Malaysian taxpayers (1MDB was left over $42 billion in debt).
The previous PH administration had also opened criminal proceedings against 17 Goldman Sachs bankers which were also dropped after the lousy settlement. After the signing, the CEO of the bank headed back to his Long Island home and threw a major party.
So, what happened to the money was the question being asked by many at the time, including the deposed prime minister, Mahathir Mohammed, who requested to know why the details of the deal were not made available at least to the Parliamentary Accounts Committee for appropriate scrutiny?
In short, how much of this depleted settlement actually ended up in the trust account set up by the previous Harapan government to repay 1MDB’s debts and how much might have been siphoned off in ‘commissions’ or ‘lawyers fees’, given the peculiar involvement of the new prime minister’s own personal lawyer in the swift negotiations?
The Bersatu government of Muhyiddin Yassin responded that it would not reveal the answers to these concerns nor allow any such scrutiny because it had made the entire settlement an ‘Official Secret’. The reason they gave was that Goldman Sachs had demanded a Non Disclosure Agreement!
At the time Sarawak Report and others observed that this excuse stank and flashed a red flag once more over the actions of the disgraced US bank. Indeed, if writer P Gunasegaram fears that two prime ministers (Najib and his former deputy, Muhyiddin) might between them have twice robbed the country over 1MDB, then the same could be feared of Goldman Sachs thanks also to this settlement.
The original Goldman crimes involved making hundreds of millions in fees through the bribing of foreign officials, namely Najib and his officers from 1MDB, for whom they raised bogus bonds.
If Goldman then agreed to a non-disclosure agreement to conceal the path of the cut price settlement money once it reached Malaysia…. then that is effectively once again participating in the bribery of foreign officials in return for saving huge amounts they could have paid in fines to Malaysia.
The bank has a duty to perform post-transaction monitoring after passing on sums of money so it must know where this money went – or should know.
Now that Bersatu’s party accounts have been frozen, following the astounding revelation that no less than RM300 million had arrived in ‘donations’ during Muhyiddin’s short 18 months in office, prompting an MACC investigation, the truth looks set to come out, (barring further attempts at a political coup by the actors involved of course).
Goldman fatally misjudged the public mood when they did their original dirty deals with Najib and were exposed following BN’s 2018 election defeat. It would be astounding if they had failed to learn that lesson and had indeed done a deal with the coup coalition to repeat that process.
If so, the people have again spoken and the bank stands in grave danger of being found out again, if this is what has happened.