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Abu-Dhabi based investment firm denies Straits Times’ allegation of involvement in 1MDB scandal

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Mubadala Investment Company, a state-owned firm based in the United Arab Emirates, has categorically denied that the six bonds amounting to US$6.9 billion the firm assumed from subsidiary International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) has anything to do with the 1 Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

Warren Fernandez, the editor of The Straits Times issued a statement standing by correspondent Leslie Lopez’ report that Malaysia is unaware that the debt obligations from 1MDB is possibly as high as US$6.9 billion.

IPIC had filed documents at the London Stock Exchange on October 1 for the purpose of obtaining the agreement of bondholders for a transfer of debt to Mubadala Investment and Mubadala Development Company (MDC). This merger would cause Mubadala Investment to become the guarantor of the bonds, and MDC the issuer. Mr. Lopez had based his report on these documents.

The statement from Mubadala read, “As for the US$6.9 billion, and as per our announcement on the LSE on 12 October, such amount represents the IPIC public bonds that will move to Mubadala Development Company.  These bonds were issued as part of a GMTN program by IPIC and have no connection to 1MDB.”

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The statement from the company runs counter to what has been reported in The Straits Times.

On October 14, the Singaporean newspaper carried the headline, “Malaysia’s 1MDB debt to Abu Dhabi may have ballooned,” which caused the political secretary to Malaysia’s Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng, Tony Pua, to call The Straits Times out on the erroneousness of its reporting. Mr. Pua also cast doubt on the paper’s other reports on the 1MDB scandal.

Mr. Pua said, “I was stunned by the ST’s reporting standards where both the writer and editors failed to read and understand the legal financial statement by IPIC.”

However, Mr. Lopez said, “The London lawyers appointed by the Malaysian government have been instructed to look into the possibility that the notes cited in the IPIC announcement could be tied to 1MDB,” and clung to the claim of the accuracy of his story, saying the Malaysian government was unaware of this because they have not been able to access documents pertinent to the case.

Furthermore, he said that his reporting for The Straits Times is taken from “documents and information from… reliable sources.”

The statement form Mubadala also said, “To clarify, there is currently no debt owed by the 1MDB group to IPIC or the Mubadala group.

The 1MDB group issued US$3.5 billion of notes to various note holders for which IPIC has given guarantees to those note holders. As issuer, the 1MDB group has the primary liability to pay the note holders regular interest coupons and to repay the principal amount at maturity. If the 1MDB group were to default and IPIC made a payment under the guarantees, then the 1MDB group would be required to reimburse IPIC for such payments.

These two 1MDB notes totaling US$3.5 billion are not the same as any of the US$6.9 billion referred to by The Straits Times, which were issued solely by IPIC and is now guaranteed by Mubadala Investment and have nothing to do with 1MDB.”

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