Najib blames Low, Goldman for failing to protect nation's interests
Former prime minister blames investment bank Goldman Sachs, lawyers and auditors for not protecting Malaysia's interests in 1MDB
SHAH ALAM: Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak does not reject the possibility that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho had cheated the government in its dealings over state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), and blamed investment bank Goldman Sachs, lawyers and auditors for failing to protect the country's interests.
In an interview with Sinar Harian, a Bahasa Malaysia daily, Najib was asked whether he ever saw, from an early stage, the possibility that Low would cause the country to lose billions of ringgit.
"Action must be taken if it's clear that he committed an offence," Najib said in the interview published yesterday.
"At that time we had appointed lawyers, auditors and Goldman Sachs, a renowned global investment bank. The responsibility of this bank and all the rest was to protect Malaysia's interests," he added.
Yes, that is the conclusion if we take into account what we know today, then that is the truth.Former Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak on whether the government had been cheated by Low Taek Jho/cite>
"If they failed to protect Malaysia's interests, how would I know?"
While serving as prime minister between 2009 and May 2018, Najib was concurrently Malaysia's finance minister.
He was also chairman of the advisory board of 1MDB, a state development fund under the finance ministry.
Meanwhile, an Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund on Wednesday sued Goldman for allegedly conspiring against the Middle Eastern fund to further a criminal scheme by 1MDB.
The suit, filed in a New York court on behalf of Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company, names Goldman as well as former Goldman officials who were charged by the US Justice Department in indictments unsealed earlier this month.
Najib, in the Sinar Harian interview, said Goldman, and lawyers and auditors linked to 1MDB's deals should have informed the government that "something was not right".
The former premier said: "They clearly failed in carrying out their responsibilities, for example Goldman Sachs. It's proven. The system we created to protect our interests - investment banks, auditors, lawyers and all, they have not played their true role."
Najib has pleaded not guilty to 25 charges in Malaysia's court related to abuse of power and money laundering over hundreds of millions of dollars of funds received in his personal bank account.
The charges include four counts of abuse of power involving RM2.3 billion (S$760 million) of 1MDB monies.
In the interview, Najib was asked whether this meant that he now admits that Malaysia had been cheated by Low.
He said: "Yes, that is the conclusion if we take into account what we know today, then that is the truth."
His comments contradict what he had said in Parliament in March 2015.
Najib had then, in a written reply to a question from an MP, said Low had no involvement with 1MDB and that all decisions and transactions were made by the company's management and board of directors, which he chaired.
"Low Taek Jho has never worked in 1MDB, and all decisions and transactions are made by the company's management and board of directors," Najib had said. - THE STRAITS TIMES