‘I was introduced to the prince by Dr Mahathir,’ recalls former AG Tommy Thomas in his book.
A prince from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had lobbied then prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad to drop 1MDB’s arbitration case against the Abu Dhabi-owned International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC).
This is according to former attorney-general Tommy Thomas, who decided to initiate legal proceedings in the UK after studying the matter and concluding that Emirati officials were also involved in siphoning off 1MDB funds.
“After the case had been filed, a prince from the UAE royal family visited the prime minister,” he said in his memoir My Story: Justice in the Wilderness.
Thomas did not specify when the encounter took place but the suit against IPIC was filed on Oct 30, 2018.
“I was asked to attend the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) at short notice, and I was introduced to the prince by the prime minister.
“Tun asked if we could settle the matter, to which I replied positively, provided the terms were fair to us. The prince and I spent a few minutes at the PMO discussing the ways and means of discussing settlement.
“But I made it abundantly clear to him that Malaysia would not withdraw the London proceedings. Negotiations must take place along with the case. They must go in parallel,” Thomas said.
Subsequently, Thomas said, a UAE delegation was sent to Kuala Lumpur.
Former finance minister Daim Zainuddin led the negotiations on the Malaysian side.
“A second meeting was held in Abu Dhabi, again attended by Tun Daim and I. The meetings were not productive because the gulf between the UAE and Malaysia was huge and unbridgeable,” he said.
This revelation came amid reports of fresh attempts to get the suit against IPIC dropped under the current Perikatan Nasional Plus government led by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.
The Singapore Straits Times in August last year reported that Malaysia was pursuing a settlement of the legal case if it can secure “financial compensation”.
However, attorney-general Idrus Harun said the legal proceeding in London is still ongoing.
Notably, Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah also visited the UAE last month.
Istana Negara said the discussion included Covid-19 vaccines and cooperation on oil, but did not mention if the topic of IPIC was discussed.
On Oct 30, 2018, Malaysia filed a suit against IPIC to nullify a consent award which would see Malaysia paying US$5.78 billion to IPIC and bond trustees.
“The basis of Malaysia’s legal challenge in the High Court of London is that the award was procured by fraud or in a manner contrary to public policy,” Thomas had said when the suit was filed.
The consent award in 2017 was put together by figures who were complicit in the alleged theft of 1MDB funds.
The award let IPIC loose of legal obligations to US$3.5 billion in bonds arranged by Goldman Sachs for 1MDB, which was subsequently misappropriated.
Emirati involvement includes former IPIC executive director Khadem Abdullah al-Qubaisi and Mohammed Badawy al Husseiny, who was the chairperson of Aabar Investments PJS, a subsidiary of IPIC.
They were responsible for setting up offshore firms to be passed off as an IPIC subsidiary in order to facilitate the siphoning of 1MDB funds.
Key Malaysian players include former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak and businessperson Low Taek Jho.
Muhyiddin’s government has also settled with Goldman Sachs for its role in the alleged fraud.
This is after Goldman Sachs agreed to pay US$2.5 billion in compensation and also guaranteed the return of US$1.4 billion in stolen assets.
However, there have been criticisms that Malaysia was not getting a good deal.