1MDB ordered to bring back US$1.8bil

1MDB ordered to bring back US$1.8bil
PHOTO: Reuters

PETALING JAYA - A day after the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) cleared 1Malay­sia Development Bhd (1MDB) of any wrong­doing with regards to its investments overseas, Bank Negara Malaysia ordered the fund to bring back US$1.83bil (S$2.55 billion) invested abroad.

The central bank in a statement yesterday stated that it had revoked three permissions granted to 1MDB under the Exchange Control Act (ECA) for investments abroad worth US$1.83bil.

It said permissions were revoked as its inves­tigations revealed that the permissions to invest abroad were obtained based on inaccurate or incomplete disclosure of information.

"The bank at all times expects full and accurate disclosure of information by applicants in considering any application under the Exchange Control Act 1953 (ECA).

"On its part, the Bank concluded that permissions required under the ECA for 1MDB's investments abroad were obtained based on inaccurate or without complete disclosure of material information relevant to the Bank's assessment of 1MDB's appli­cations," said the statement.

Bank Negara also stated that it had issued a directive under the Financial Services Act 2013 to 1MDB to return the US$1.83bil to Malaysia and submit a plan to the central bank for this purpose.

Bank Negara started its investigations into the investment abroad by 1MDB in early June to determine if it had breached any conditions under the ECA.

Under the Act, monies cannot be used for reasons other than what has been stated in the application for permission to the transfer the funds.

1MDB's investments abroad can be traced back to Sept 28, 2009. On that date, it entered into a joint venture with PetroSaudi Holdings (Cayman) Ltd to explore opportunities in the oil and gas sector. The joint venture company was called 1MDB PetroSaudi Ltd.

1MDB had invested US$1bil (RM3.49bil then based on exchange rate of RM3.49 to US$1) in return for a 40 per cent share in the joint venture company.

However six months later on March 31, 2010, 1MDB converted the US$1bil into a debt and relinquished its 40 per cent interest in the joint venture company.

Subsequently 1MDB loaned further amounts of US$500mil and US$330mil to 1MDB PetroSaudi in 2011 and 2012 - hence the total amount of US$1.83bil. Over the years, the amount has snowballed into US$2.33bil (RM7.71bil).

Last year, the board of 1MDB had stated that it wanted the return of all the monies back by December 2014. According to the annual report, a sum of US$1.22bil had been received and utilised.

On Thursday, the AGC cleared 1MDB of any wrongdoing in relation to an investigation initiated by Bank Negara into its investments overseas.

In a statement, 1MDB said it acknow­ledged and respected Bank Negara's authority.

"The overseas investment of US$1.83bil relates to historic equity and loan investments in a joint venture with PetroSaudi in 2009 that was eventually converted in September 2012 into fund units valued at US$2.318bil.

"As previously explained by 1MDB to Bank Negara, this US$2.318bil has been redeemed in 2014 and 2015 with proceeds substantially utilised.

"The remaining US$940mil of fund units are guaranteed by Aabar and have been earmarked for a 'debt for asset' swap with its AA-rated pa­rent, IPIC, as part of 1MDB's rationalisation plan," it said.

1MDB said it was clear that the original US$1.83bil had either been spent or earmarked for debt settlement arrangement that would result in a substantial reduction of its debt, adding that it had provided written and verbal explanations on this to Bank Negara.

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