Book: Goldman, IPIC bosses involved in shady 1MDB dealings

  • Sep 14, 2018
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Former Goldman Sachs group president Gary Cohn and International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) chairperson Sheikh Mansour Zayed al Nahyan were involved in some capacity in the alleged dubious dealings with 1MDB, according to a book on the scandal.

The book "Billion Dollar Whale" by Wall Street Journal journalists Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, claimed that Cohn had backed Goldman's dealings with 1MDB and sidelined executives who were uncomfortable with the plan.

"The backing of a domineering and powerful personality like Cohn afforded significant cover to those involved in the 1MDB business and drowned out the voices of those who were uncomfortable with the plans to raise billions of dollars for the fund," read an excerpt shared by Bloomberg.

Bloomberg said that Cohn did not respond for comment.

The top executive had left Goldman in 2016 and later became US president Donald Trump's White House economic advisor, a post he held until early this year.

Goldman, through former executive Tim Leissner, had helped raise US$6.5 billion in bonds for 1MDB in 2012 and 2013 while raking in US$593 million in commissions.

It is believed that US$2.6 billion had been misappropriated from the bonds Goldman helped raise.

Meanwhile, the book also claimed that Leissner together with alleged 1MDB scandal mastermind Jho Low, had met with Sheikh Mansour in March 2012 to broker a deal in which IPIC would guarantee 1MDB's debts in exchange for the Abu Dhabi firm getting rights to buy a stake in 1MDB's power assets.

The book claimed that Sheikh Mansour approved the proposal, which was described as an "artificial construct" aimed at diverting more than US$1billion from 1MDB.

"Leissner's colleagues at Goldman's Middle Eastern headquarters in Dubai, who did regular business with IPIC, found the idea preposterous and declined to get involved.

"Even IPIC's own finance director raised questions about why IPIC would put itself at risk over another fund's business - one with no track record, at that - but was outranked," it said.

IPIC has since merged with sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Development Co last year. Bloomberg reported that a Mubadala representative declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Low meanwhile criticised the book.

"Discussion of the underlying issues and transactions are as thin as the support for the falsehoods peddled about Mr Low and others," the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

US investigators believe that overall, more than US$4 billion had been allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.

Low has been charged in absentia for money laundering.