Malaysia has snubbed a “less than $2bn” offer from Goldman Sachs over the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad fund (1MDB) scandal.
The country’s prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who is still demanding $7.5bn (£5.8bn) in compensation for losses incurred, told the Financial Times in an interview yesterday that he was not satisfied with the offer.
“Goldman Sachs has offered something like less than $2bn… if they respond reasonably we might not insist on getting that $7.5bn,” he said.
Mr Mahathir, 94, added that the government has also reached out to both Deutsche Bank and UBS regarding their involvement with 1MDB.
The investment fund, which was set up by former prime minister Najib Razak to turn Kuala Lumpur into an Asian financial hub, has suffered heavy scrutiny for one of the largest alleged bribery and corruption schemes in the country.
Malaysia filed criminal charges against Goldman Sachs and two of its former employees last year, who have been accused of diverting £2.14bn, bribing officials and giving false statements when helping to arrange bonds for 1MDB.
The allegations are that huge sums were looted as part of a fraud orchestrated by Mr Najib and his associates. It is alleged they used the cash to buy luxury items from jewellery to artwork, real estate and yachts. Mr Najib denies any wrongdoing.
The scandal was a major factor behind an electoral earthquake in May 2018 that toppled Mr Najib’s long-ruling coalition and paved way for Mr Mahathir’s return to power.
Mr Mahathir said: “The amount [Mr Low embezzled from 1MDB] is much bigger. If he had the full amount we would be very happy . . . We are still going after the rest of the money. The DoJ has indicated that, if we can prove claim of ownership, then we will be able to get the money for ourselves.”
Mr Mahathir told the FT that Malaysia was not negotiating nor in contact with Mr Low, who also denied wrongdoing.
Goldman Sachs declined to comment.