Court Orders PM, 1MDB, Govt to Enter Defence in Suit Against IPIC Settlement

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Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and the government will have to enter their defence in a suit brought against them for paying US$1.2 billion (RM4.72 billion) to Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said High Court judge Datuk Hue Siew Keng dismissed the applications as Najib, 1MDB and the federal government would not suffer any prejudice by filing their defence.

Haniff, who represented the opposition-linked youth group Gerakan Anak Muda Tolak Najib (GANT1), said Hue remarked that the plaintiffs had filed their suit six months ago but the three had yet to file their defence.

“The judge also stated that there was no statement under oath that the consent award between IPIC and 1MDB in London was protected under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) or any other law to restrict the trio from filing their defence,” he told reporters of the ruling made in Hue’s chambers yesterday.

The court has given the defendants up to Feb 9 to file their defence.

Malaysiakini quoted the defendants’ lawyer, Datuk Wira Mohd Hafarizam Harun, as saying today that he would file an appeal against Hue’s order, which was made in chambers.

On Jan 9, Hue had dismissed the defendants’ written applications to strike out the case on the grounds that GANT1 did not have the jurisdiction to sue as the matter between 1MDB and IPIC was settled outside the country.

Hue said the plaintiffs had an arguable case and the matter must go to trial.

The defendants then applied for a stay and also filed an appeal in the Court of Appeal.

On July 11, GANT1 sought a court order that the settlement agreement between IPIC and 1MDB at the London International Court of Arbitration on May 11 be declared invalid.

It also sought to compel Najib, 1MDB and the government to provide detailed accounts of all money paid to IPIC and its subsidiary, Aabar Investment PJS.

GANT1 also sought an order that the defendants through its agents have a duty to return any payments that were wrongly paid to IPIC or Aabar, and/or the British Virgin Island-listed company Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (Aabar BVI) to 1MDB.

The dispute between 1MDB and IPIC surrounds the US$1.2 billion loan and another US$3.54 billion in cash advances 1MDB alleged it made to several Abu-Dhabi-controlled entities as part of obligations under a May 2012 bond arrangement.

IPIC claimed it never received any payment from 1MDB, triggering the dispute that was filed in the London court but it went to arbitration as a settlement was reached just days before it started.

1MDB had previously said it paid some money to Aabar BVI as part of its obligation under a May 2012 bond arrangement but IPIC later said the offshore company did not belong to it.