Tony Pua: Muhyiddin must end silence on 1MDB settlement fees

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Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin must clear doubts on the fees paid to professionals for their service in the settlements reached between the government and Goldman Sachs in relation to the recovery of assets linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), said DAP lawmaker Tony Pua.

“The prime minister must end his silence and provide the transparency he preached to end the doubts that have been raised on 1MDB once and for all.

“While his government may have unnecessarily signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with Goldman Sachs over the settlement, the fees 1MDB paid to its professionals would not be covered by the NDA and can be revealed,” the Damansara MP said in a statement.

The Perikatan Nasional government’s failure to reveal this information will only taint Muhyiddin’s reputation, as it did former prime minister Najib Razak, Pua added.

“There can be no bigger irony if funds – which were painstakingly recovered from Goldman Sachs and a process that started under the Pakatan Harapan administration – to repay the enormous debts of 1MDB caused by Najib’s kleptocracy, are now being siphoned in part for the benefit of Muhyiddin and Bersatu’s political interest,” he said.

Pua’s statement comes in the wake of allegations that the high fees to a lawyer were then channelled to Bersatu, Muhyiddin’s party, as funds for GE15.

Kuang assemblyman Sallehudin Amiruddin recently lodged a police report urging the authorities to investigate whether millions had been paid to a political party through a high-profile lawyer.

Lawyer Rosli Dahlan then lodged a police report against Sallehudin, Umno’s Lokman Adam and blogger Mohd Hanizam Yunus for alleging he received billions of ringgit in kickbacks from Goldman Sachs in its 1MDB settlement.

Whistle-blower website Sarawak Report also cited sources that 5% of the settlement with Goldman Sachs was awarded as commission to key negotiators appointed by the government.

However, Bersatu’s information chief Wan Saiful Wan Jan has refuted the allegations, calling them another attempt by the opposition to slander the party and Muhyiddin.

Nevertheless, Pua said that there are now growing concerns among Malaysians because the settlement is not as “clean” as it made out to be.

“It has been alleged that the lawyers involved were paid huge fees, part of which were kicked back to the prime minister’s party, Bersatu,” he said.

Pua added that, despite criticisms from the opposition and civil society groups, the government is still refusing to unveil the terms of the settlement with Goldman Sachs, with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Takiyuddin Hassan saying the settlement was bound by a confidentiality clause.

Pua, who was the political secretary of former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the PH government had ensured the salient details of all contracts and agreements, particularly the fees for mega-projects were made available to public scrutiny.

“As the Malay saying goes, ‘berani kerana benar’. However, the PN government is behaving exactly like the Najib administration by hiding secrets and protecting vested interests,” he added.

Goldman Sachs was investigated by regulators in at least 14 countries for its role in underwriting the 1MDB bond issues.

The Wall Street titan collected about US$600 million (RM2.48 billion) in fees for its service in arranging three bond offerings by 1MDB in 2012 and 2013 to raise a total of US$6.5 billion.

The Finance Ministry said in July that the Malaysian government has reached a RM15.8 billion settlement with the investment banking giant for its role in the 1MDB affair.

The settlements are a part of the government’s efforts to recover funds and assets directly or indirectly linked to the investment fund. – TMI