28 April 2016
Malaysia’s
central bank on Thursday ordered troubled state-owned investment firm
1MDB to repatriate money that was sent overseas without approval,
putting further strain on the scandal-plagued company just days after it
defaulted on a bond issue.
The
fund, founded in 2009 by Prime Minister Najib Razak, is teetering on
the brink of collapse amid multiple investigations around the world into
allegations that billions were looted from it.
Najib also has been under pressure over $681 million that he received from overseas in 2013.
A
statement issued by the central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, did not
specify how much money 1MDB had been ordered to repatriate.
But
the bank has been pressuring 1MDB, or 1Malaysia Development Berhad,
over $1.83 billion that the company has said was previously remitted
abroad.
As
questions swirl around billions of dollars moved around the world by
1MDB, Bank Negara has said the company failed to prove the ultimate use
of the money or comply with previous instructions to repatriate the
$1.83 billion.
The
bank’s order requires “1MDB to repatriate monies remitted abroad”, it
said, adding that the company has “failed to submit evidence and
documentation specified by the bank to justify its inability to fully
comply with the repatriation order”.
1MDB
said, in a statement, it would pay an undisclosed fine for not
complying with Bank Negara’s orders but it did not say if it would also
repatriate the money in question.
1MDB,
whose advisory board is chaired by Najib, earlier this week defaulted
on a $1.75 billion bond issue after missing a $50 million interest
payment, triggering fears that the government will have to step in and
bailout 1MDB, which could rattle markets and hurt Malaysia’s credit
rating.
1MDB,
which ran up more than $11 billion in debt in a series of
much-questioned investments, has steadfastly denied money was stolen or
that it was in financial trouble.
But
earlier this month a Malaysian parliamentary committee said at least
$4.2 billion in questionable overseas money transfers were made by 1MDB.
Najib
was plunged into the crisis last year when the Wall Street Journal
revealed $681 million in transfers to his personal bank accounts.
He
claims the money was a gift from the Saudi royal family, most of which
he returned. A Saudi official recently said that was true, but only
after weeks of silence that cast doubt on the claim.
In
a series of more recent investigative reports, however, the newspaper
said Malaysian investigation documents indicate more than $1 billion in
1MDB-linked money had been funnelled to Najib.
Najib and 1MDB vehemently deny that claim.
Najib
has faced calls to resign but he has tightened his grip on the ruling
party and thwarted domestic investigations. His position is not seen as
under imminent threat.

 
The
central bank has fined embattled state fund 1Malaysia Development
Berhad (1MDB) for “failure to fully comply with directions under the
Financial Services…