Singapore's Straits Times reported this morning :
Malaysia and Abu Dhabi have reached a settlement on a dispute involving billions of dollars in debt obligations of scandal-scarred 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that is at the centre of an international money-laundering probe.
A central piece of the proposed settlement calls for Malaysia to repay Abu Dhabi US$1.2 billion (S$1.7 billion) before the end of this year. The amount represents a loan and accumulated interest charges on a bailout financial package 1MDB received from Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company, or Ipic, in July 2015.
The settlement agreement also calls for both parties to enter into negotiations to resolve another dispute involving roughly US$3.5 billion in the form of cash advances and payments from 1MDB to IPIC that are now in dispute. Negotiations will commence early next year and must be concluded before December 2020, during which time both parties will stand down from pursuing any legal action, the executives said.
"... the deal could significantly dilute the international legal challenges confronting Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration over the fallout from the 1MDB saga."
The Straits Times quoted unnamed banking and legal sources who asserted that the settlement removes all elements of illegality that led to the dispute in the first place, which include funds intended for IPIC being diverted from 1MDB to a shell company.
The DOJ has described the transaction and others consequent to it as theft, and that its actions were intended to " return these stolen assets to their legitimate owners, the Malaysian people."
It is obvious that the above settlement does no such thing and is in fact a further loss to the Malaysian people. Nevertheless, Najib and his bloggers are already on the offensive, rejoicing in what is seen as a masterful escape.As the blogger Rocky Attan put it:
If nothing else, there is now an admission out of Malaysia that Najib and his asscoaites are facing the prospect of prosecution for stealing from 1MDB.