World

Malaysian PM: Opposition tried to oust govt with 1MDB

Najib tells US and Asean industry leaders that 1MDB scandal has been 'blown out of proportion'

WASHINGTON There was a campaign to deliberately sabotage 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) to undermine investor confidence in Malaysia's economy, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Mr Najib, who was addressing the US-Asean Business Council and US Chamber of Commerce over dinner at the St. Regis hotel in Washington DC said the move was a failed attempt to topple the government, reported The Star.

"I know some of you will have heard some less positive stories about the Malaysian economy, particularly about 1MDB.

"Rather than brush the issue under the rug, we ordered investigations into the company at a scale unprecedented in our nation's history. This... is progressing well, and many of the assets formerly owned by 1MDB are thriving," he said .

Mr Najib told industry leaders from the US and Asean that the issue had been exaggerated by the opposition leaders.

"...While there were issues, certain opposition politicians in our country blew them out of proportion. Indeed, there was a campaign to deliberately sabotage the company - and undermine investor confidence in our economy - in a failed attempt to topple the government in-between election cycles."

Mr Najib's government founded the sovereign wealth fund, which is facing money laundering probes in at least six countries including the US, Switzerland and Singapore. He denies any wrongdoing.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has said more than US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) was misappropriated from 1MDB by officials of the fund and their associates, according to dozens of civil lawsuits it filed last year.

The DOJ sued to seize some US$1.7 billion in assets it said were bought with misappropriated 1MDB funds but asked for a stay on its civil lawsuits last month because it was conducting a related criminal probe, reported Reuters.

US President Donald Trump earlier welcomed Mr Najib to the White House, praising his country for investing in the US.

Flanked by advisers in the Cabinet Room, Mr Najib told Mr Trump that Malaysia Airlines would buy 25 Boeing 737 jets and eight 787 Dreamliners, and would probably add 25 Boeings in the near future - a deal he said would be worth more than US$10 billion within five years.

Mr Najib said Malaysia's Employees Provident Fund, a major pension fund, wanted to spend US$3 billion to US$4 billion on US infrastructure development.

After the meeting, Mr Trump tweeted: "It was a great honour to welcome Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of Malaysia and his distinguished delegation to the White House today."

Najib Razak1MDBEconomy