Bank Negara validating 1MDB’s explanation on US$1.83 billion funds

16 Nov 2015 / 05:39 H.

    KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara Malaysia is still “validating” 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) explanation on its inability to repatriate US$1.83 billion in funds ordered by the central bank.
    Stressing that “the matter is not straight forward” and related to 1MDB’s rationalisation plan, Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz did not commit a timeline for the completion of its evaluation process.
    “It’s premature to say anything more, we’ll make assessments once we’ve received all information that we’ve requested,” she said during a press conference on Friday announcing the country’s gross domestic product growth figures for the third quarter of the year.
    Bank Negara had in October revoked its permission for 1MDB’s investments abroad totalling US$1.83 billion due to “inaccurate or incomplete disclosure of information”. The move was followed by an order to 1MDB to bring the money home.
    1MDB, however, said the funds have either been spent or earmarked for a debt transfer, and therefore is unable to bring them back. Of the US$1.83 billion, US$940 million is guaranteed by Aabar Investments and has been earmarked for a “debt for asset” swap with its AA-rated pa­rent, International Petroleum Investment Co, while the remainder is linked to historic equity and loan investments in a joint venture with PetroSaudi in 2009.
    “The bank is validating this now and will take into account any firm binding commitments made by 1MDB under its rationalisation plan, which would contribute towards reducing its debt burden and this is important to achieve a swift and rapid resolution of its financial position and ensure that it can continue to meet its understanding debt obligations going forward,” Zeti said.
    She insisted Bank Negara has done nothing wrong in the revocation of offshore investment permissions for 1MDB despite some quarters arguing that the central bank did not request detailed information on the investments.
    “We do not just rely on the forms that were filled up, we also rely on any other written information from any organisations that invest abroad,” she noted.
    Zeti went on to say that Bank Negara had asked for updated information on the status of 1MDB’s investments abroad at the point of approval.
    “Investors should be aware that if they want to invest massively abroad, above RM100 million, they have to submit not only the form, but detailed information on the investments,” she explained.
    She pointed out that an application from 1MDB was rejected by Bank Negara last year due to incomplete information.
    When asked if any action will be taken against 1MDB if the strategic investment firm is found guilty, Zeti said the central bank will consider all options to deal with any contravention with the rules and regulations.
    “Bank Negara is answerable to all people in this country, we’re transparent in the rules and regulations,” she added.
    Commenting on who will succeed her as central bank chief, Zeti, whose term as governor will expire in April 2016, said Bank Negara has identified a few candidates.
    “I encourage the governance committee to convene and conclude this issue at least three months before the appointment (of the new governor),”she added.

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