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Malaysia probes claim China offered to bail out 1MDB

09 January 2019

Malaysia is looking into allegations that China offered to help deter probes into 1MDB in exchange for infrastructure projects, after the Wall Street Journal reported that senior Chinese leaders offered to help bail out the troubled state fund in 2016.

The documents reportedly show that "Chinese officials told visiting Malaysians that China would use its influence to try to get the USA and other countries to drop their probes of allegations that allies of then-Prime Minister Najib Razak and others plundered the fund known as 1MDB".

Slamming the report, Low said it was journalistic responsibility of the WSJ to have approached such claims with scepticism and suspicion, and that it was unfortunate that these baseless political accusations were passed off as legitimate reporting.

The embassy also said that China and Malaysia treated each other as friendly neighbours and honest partners all along.

The embassy denied such deals existed, saying China maintained a policy of non-interference in the affairs of another country.

China has described a report accusing the Chinese government of trying to influence the investigation into the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal as being "groundless".

Najib, along with his former treasury chief Mohamad Irwan Serigar Abdullah, were each charged with six counts of criminal breach of trust in the case, which involves the alleged misappropriation of about $1.5 billion in government funds.

The factors are the Malaysian government's review of various infrastructure projects undertaken by Chinese companies and China's tighter currency control measures.

Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told local media that he could not confirm the claims but would look into the matter. "If this is said, this is something we will pursue". He pleaded not guilty and has consistently denied wrongdoing.

"We know that the price (of projects with China) is inflated, but whether there was such a deal, I have to check", the Malay Mail cited Lim as saying during a press conference at the finance ministry in Putrajaya.

Najib oversaw the setting up of 1MDB in 2009, and the United States Justice Department estimated US$4.5 billion was misappropriated by high-level fund officials and their associates between 2009 and 2014.

The report was written by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, WSJ reporters who wrote a book called Billion Dollar Whale about the scandal and in particular, Low Taek Jho, the high-flying Malaysian financier at the heart of the scandal.

"With the likelihood that the respondent will abscond, I am of the considered view that the respondent's presence (in court) can not be secured by the setting of bail or the setting of any condition to the granting of bail", he said.

Malaysia probes claim China offered to bail out 1MDB