‘Guaranteed 1MDB debts will be paid’

A-      A+

KUALA LUMPUR — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia is committed to pay any debt linked to state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) if it had been guaranteed by the government.

“We have to … if it implicates the government, the government has to pay,” Dr Mahathir told a news conference yesterday.

He said the administration could reclaim the bulk of 1MDB funds as part of its action plan to address the country’s debt level.

He also said the countries where 1MDB funds are believed to be held would be contacted as the government works to recover the money the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government had denied belonged to the state investment firm and related entities.

“The focus on corruption is important as there is still money in Switzerland, Singapore and America. Before, there was no confession from Najib that the money was from 1MDB and was laundered in the States,” he said, referring to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“The amount is quite large and it can help us to solve some debts. We don’t know exactly how much, but in America alone, the total is US$4.5 billion (RM17.83 billion),” he said, citing the figure stated in the US Department of Justice’s kleptocracy action.

Meanwhile, investigations into Tan Sri Irwan Serigar Abdullah’s role in 1MDB will follow procedure.

“We are doing investigations … certain steps have to be taken to facilitate investigations.”

Irwan was relieved of his duties as Secretary-General of the Treasury on Monday. He was also chairman or director of several government-linked firms, including 1MDB.

Dr Mahathir revealed former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail claimed he had prepared charges against Najib before he was abruptly removed.

“I met with him yesterday (Tuesday) to learn what happened when he was removed and what was the result of his investigations.

“He claimed he was preparing to charge Najib and that morning he was deprived of his position.”

1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy may be the next to be barred from leaving the country.

Media reports suggested Arul had also not been cleared from travelling after cross-checks of his identification card number against the Immigration Department’s blacklist database.

The department has not confirmed such a ban on Arul.