Tuesday, February 07, 2023

Muhyiddin's Goldman scheme of things

MACC have been on the prowl of public spending guise for emergency but suspiciously diverted into the war chest of PPBM and PN.

At the time rakyat were "imprisoned", financially in strait jacket, and ones couldn't bear the pressure resorted to suicide, the impression is Muhyiddin-led government were amassing a political warchest at the rakyat expense.

It is despicable, but more despicable is when the country is in a dire financial state, and there is an attempt to recoup the dissipated money of the 1MDB scam, but those in power may have diverted the Goldman Sach's settlement ala Low Taek Jho.

The loss due to Goldman's indiscretion is US$9.5 billion. The Lim Guan Eng seek a claim against Goldman at US$7.5 billion. Back then, Lim Sian See may have argued for a ballpark of US6 billion cash. 

When PH fell, Tengku Zafrul and a coterie of officials and Muhyiddin advisers quickly agreed to a settlement of US$3.9 billion. 

P Gunasegaran argued in 2020 that the amount is effectively only US$2.5 billion cash. And, recently Goldman is wavering on disbursing the money Zafrul announced in July 2020 would be paid in 2 months . 

Gunasegaran wrote a piece on Malaysiakini recently and its reproduced below:

Probe multi-billion Goldman-Muhyiddin government settlement

P Gunasegaram 

Malaysiakini - Feb 2, 2023 

COMMENT | A recent Singapore interview highlights that 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 (above), 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.

Goldman Sachs was represented by Kumar Partnership in Malaysia.

Recovering the country’s money

Anwar was put on the spot in a Bloomberg interview on Tuesday in Singapore, where he was asked about the 1MDB crisis and his response to Goldman Sachs publicly declaring Malaysia was under-declaring assets it recovered from the 1MDB crisis.

Apparently, Goldman Sachs was baulking from making a scheduled payment of US$250 million because of Malaysia’s alleged under-declaration of recovered assets bought with money stolen from the bond issues arranged by Goldman Sachs. Anwar merely asked Goldman Sachs to honour its obligations.

The crux of the matter, however, was that Malaysia under Muhyiddin as PM and Zafrul as finance minister did a rather bad deal with Goldman Sachs, as I explained in detail in this article titled “Not so fast, ‘US$3.9b’ deal with Goldman another lousy one”, written after the deal announcement.

That deal was done in July 2020, barely five months after the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government in February of that year.

The first major problem was that the deal, even if Zafrul’s claim that it was US$3.9 billion was true, is substantially lower than the sum claimed by the previous Harapan government of US$7.5 billion from total losses of an estimated US$9.6 billion, including interest payments.

The second problem was that it involved a cash payment of only US$2.5 billion by Goldman Sachs. The remainder of the US$1.4 billion was an undertaking to make up the shortfall if not enough assets bought with the money raised from the relevant bond issues were recovered.

If US$1.4 billion of assets were recovered, Goldman Sachs would not have to pay a sen!

Zafrul claimed at the time that the settlement of US$3.9 billion (but only US$2.5 billion without the guarantee) was much higher than the US$1.75 billion that Goldman Sachs had claimed in 2019.

However, former attorney-general Tommy Thomas in his book, published in January 2021, had a different story to tell.

On page 317, he said: “At meetings in Kuala Lumpur in May 2019, the DOJ (the US Department of Justice) informed us that they intended to seek a direct payment from Goldman Sachs to Malaysia of US$3.4 billion. That when added to the estimated value of assets to be recovered, from Goldman Sachs bond proceeds, would mean that Malaysia could expect to receive about US$4.4 billion to US$4.7 billion. I replied that I would expect much more and that we would negotiate with Goldman Sachs directly.”

Thomas further said: “I was confident of recovering a sum closer to Malaysia’s actual losses of US$9.6 billion.” Further, he revealed that the DOJ was amenable to a sum much closer to what he was seeking.

“Hence when I resigned at the end of February 2020, Malaysia was wonderfully placed to turn the screws on Goldman Sachs… I would never have advised prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to accept a cash payment of US$2.5 billion. I had sights on a much bigger sum.”

But we settled instead, effectively, for a paltry US$2.5 billion. Why, oh why? And why the hurry to settle - five months after Muhyiddin came to power?

Did not all the brains involved, Rosli and Naban included, think of asking for Thomas’ thoughts on how much they should ask Goldman Sachs?

Did he not initiate the lawsuits, the criminal cases against Goldman Sachs, and was leading the negotiations at the time with Goldman Sachs? What would have caused our negotiators to make such an error?

The US$3.9 billion was a misleading figure because out of that, US$1.4 billion was merely a guarantee that Goldman Sachs will make up if other 1MDB recoveries did not reach that sum. Goldman Sachs only paid US$2.5 billion in cash. That’s why they are kicking up the fuss about the undervaluation of the assets.

Questions from Muhyiddin-era settlement

By the time the Harapan government fell in February 2020, actions initiated by Tommy Thomas, including criminal charges filed against 17 key officials and other contemplated charges, had given Malaysia the upper hand in negotiations.

Yet, the government made such a lousy deal. And it covered things up too. Despite a question over this by MP Wong Chen, then de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan, in November 2020, refused to disclose details, citing a confidentiality clause.

Why should the government of Malaysia agree to such a clause in the first place? What was it hiding?

These are all serious questions that need to be answered, in addition to the very worrisome issue of the alleged RM500 million payment to Bersatu. If indeed that was the case, how much did the senior lawyers get paid for one week of work, which is how long the finance minister said it took to close the negotiations?

One must say that this particular deal by the Muhyiddin government was very quick, uncharacteristically much quicker than normal. Why? Also troubling is the fact that Zafrul is still in the cabinet, as is Idrus in the AG’s seat with all these still not explained.

There is no choice but for this federal government to be united in investigating this case to its conclusion, bringing all culprits to book and making the results public. Anything less will lead to an immediate loss of trust, faith and credibility in this government, which is less than three months old.

Investigators this time should take the trouble to read Thomas’ book, especially the 23-page chapter simply called “Goldman Sachs” - the best account of Goldman Sachs’ complicity in crime in the 1MDB issue I have read. And, yes, interview him - he has a wealth of knowledge on the topic.

Thomas’ book has far more value than to be merely probed by a Royal Commission of Inquiry. It can save billions of US dollars for the country and bring to book many more criminals.

P GUNASEGARAM is the author of the book ‘1MDB: The Scandal that Brought Down a Government’ which explains the mechanics of how 1MDB was used to defraud the Malaysian people.


Though presumptous in some aspect and differ in others, Gunasegaran highlighted this blog's long suspicion that Muhyiddin may have commited the biggest and most despicable money scam for PPBM's political war chest.

The suspicion grew when a former Minister confided before GE15 that the scheme may involved a Malaysian-owned London-based company as intermediary, thus leading to the suspicion someone squandered a tidy sum of money.

Back then, Rosli Dahalan threatened to sue social media accusing him of profiteering from the scheme and being the conduit for PPBM war chest.

This issue have not caught public and social media attention yet. It should since it could be a bigger story than the currently frozen account of PPBM.

The government would also have a better bet to recoup money from possible leakages of government grants for Aerodyne, Penjana Kapital, etc. into PPBM political war chest.

These questionable deals traced back to Muhyiddin keen interest in digitalisation since chairing Digital Malaysia cabinet committee under Najib administration.

So far known projects under the program with Muhyiddin's alleged involvements are Bestari.net, various national security systems, new systems for Immigration, healthcare and MySejahtera. 

A young executive with family ties to Muhyiddin's son-in-law was recently apprehended as broker to arrange commission from companies for award of government direct negotiation contract during the pandemic to be paid into a PPBM's war chest.

Recently, PPBM revealed their accounts and it was frozen by MACC under AMLA for further investigation over an unusual RM250 million inflow.

PAS will follow suit since 90 witnesses admitted receiving money after baiah swearing ritual to vote PAS. Hadi's attempt to explain it as sedeqah was unconvincing. 

No worry of a political fallout for Anwar and the Unity Goverment. The suffering public will insist on truth and justice.

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