The Perikatan Nasional government must clarify reports that it is dropping a case filed by the previous Pakatan Harapan government against the Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) over a US$5.87 billion (RM24.8 billion) settlement dispute, said Damansara MP Tony Pua.
This came after the Sarawak Report, which first exposed the 1MDB scandal in 2015, claimed that the PN government has decided to halt court proceedings against IPIC in the UK in favour of diplomatic negotiations with the Abu Dhabi government.
"Foreign Minister Hishamuddin Hussein must confirm if the Malaysian government has stopped the court proceedings in London against IPIC to recover the losses suffered by 1MDB," Pua said in a statement.
The Harapan government had in 2018 filed a suit in London against IPIC to challenge the settlement with 1MDB on grounds that it was allegedly fraudulently arrived at by then prime minister Najib Abdul Razak in 2017 and other conspirators to cover up the 1MDB scandal.
"Under the settlement which was reached with the intervention of Najib, IPIC will be repaid the total of US$1,205,450,000 (RM5.1 billion) by Dec 31, 2017 for the advances IPIC made to 1MDB in June 2015.
"Separately, 1MDB and Minister of Finance Inc had to assume responsibility for all future interest and principal payments under the two bonds issued by 1MDB, amounting to US$3.5 billion (RM14.8 billion), which were previously guaranteed by IPIC.
"The settlement effectively placed the entire burden of repayment for the fraudulent bonds on 1MDB and the Malaysian government and completely absolved IPIC of any obligations," Pua said.
He added that the Harapan government had been making good progress in the case and is therefore shocked that the new government plans to halt proceedings.
"As of Nov 2019, the Harapan government had succeeded in winning our case in the UK Court of Appeal to ensure that the case against IPIC would be contested in an open court, instead of via closed-door arbitration. IPIC had obviously preferred closed-door arbitration to ensure that the unsavoury details of the entire bond issuance, which was arranged by Goldman Sachs, remains under wraps.
"The strategy by the then attorney-general Tommy Thomas was to ensure that the Malaysian people will receive the maximum possible compensation from IPIC for the losses 1MDB had suffered in their sham ‘collaboration’.
"However, we were shocked to read, again, in Sarawak Report that the Muhyiddin government has decided to halt the court proceedings against IPIC," said Pua.
The report had said that Hishammuddin is now tasked to negotiate directly with the Abu Dhabi government for another settlement.
However, Pua expressed concern that Malaysians may not get a favourable outcome, considering the PN government's track record in dealing with the 1MDB scandal.
"With the litany of quick and sometimes, bewildering settlements by the Muhyiddin government in cases relating 1MDB, Malaysians are now concerned that we are once again being taken for a ride," he added.
One example, Pua said, was the PN government's agreement to settle with Goldman Sachs for a US$2.5 billion (RM10.58 billion) cash payment and US$1.4 billion (RM5.9 billion) in guarantees instead of US$7.5 billion (RM31.7 billion) claimed by the previous Harapan government.
He noted that the suits against Goldman Sachs and 17 past and present directors of the international bank were also dropped before they were brought to court.
Goldman Sachs, which arranged three bonds totalling US$6.5 billion (RM27.5 billion) for 1MDB which were later mostly misappropriated, was accused of being an enabler to the theft of 1MDB's funds.
Goldman Sachs had apologised to Malaysians and blamed a number of rogue bankers.
"Global financial media have generally believed that Goldman got away cheap and easy for their role in arranging US$6.5 billion (RM27.5 billion) of bonds for 1MDB.
"In fact, The New York Post reported that Goldman Sachs chief executive officer David Solomon immediately celebrated the settlement as a DJ at the Hamptons," Pua said.
He also noted that in May, Najib's step-son Riza Aziz was "let off the hook" with a discharge not amounting to an acquittal over 1MDB-related money laundering amounting to US$248 million (RM1.05 billion).
The Prime Minister's Office denied involvement in Riza's plea deal.
"Given the dubious track record of the Muhyiddin administration in reaching settlements, Malaysians are understandably concerned that the interests of ordinary Malaysians will once again be betrayed.
"Hishammuddin must immediately address these concerns on the veracity of the exposé by the Sarawak Report, failing which the suit against IPIC must be allowed to complete its course to ensure the best possible outcome for the rakyat," he said.