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Mahathir: Goldman Sachs must 'pay us what we are asking for'

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Facing charges over its role in the 1MDB scandal, bank says it was misled by Najib Razak's administration

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Goldman Sachs could do business in Malaysia only "if they pay us what we are asking for".

"Because they were not prudent ... they are supposed to study the borrowers and lenders properly," he said, adding that he was willing to negotiate with the bank.

The firm is facing charges in Kuala Lumpur over its role in helping raise US$6.5 billion (S$8.8 billion) for troubled state fund 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Goldman Sachs denies wrongdoing and says officials under former prime minister Najib Razak's administration lied to mislead its staff.

Mr Najib is due in court next week in the first trial relating to 1MDB. He has pleaded not guilty and denies wrongdoing.

Dr Mahathir said his government was also in talks with the US Department of Justice over Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In an effort to reduce Malaysia's debt after the 1MDB scandal, Dr Mahathir is also considering the listing or sale of stakes in state-owned enterprises, including Malaysia Airlines.

There has been speculation this could include selling a portion of Petronas, Malaysia's national energy behemoth and the world's third-biggest exporter of liquefied natural gas. But Dr Mahathir said this was not on the cards.

"It has always given the government good returns. We have no plans to privatise or to sell Petronas," he said.


In a separate development, the Malaysian government will have spent an estimated RM14.2 million (S$4.7 million) by end of the month on the superyacht it seized from 1MDB-linked fugitive financier Jho Low and is trying to sell, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

In a written Parliamentary reply to a question by an opposition lawmaker on Wednesday, Mr Lim said RM11 million of the figure went to maintenance for the vessel, named Equanimity, last year.

The 300-foot ship, formerly owned by Jho Low, also known as Low Taek Jho, failed to sell at auction last year after being seized by the Malaysian government and is now docked in the northern island of Langkawi.

At a guide price of US$130 million, Equanimity features a helicopter pad, room for 22 guests and even a spa and beauty salon. Just last year it was valued at US$250 million. - REUTERS