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WSJ report on 1MDB bailout won't affect Malaysia-China ties, says analyst

WSJ report on 1MDB bailout won't affect Malaysia-China ties, says analyst”

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad shakes hands with China's Premier Li Keqiang at the end of a news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing August 20, 2018.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on January 7 that in 2016 senior officials from China offered to bail out 1MDB by using China's influence to endeavor to stop an investigation from the United States and other countries on the multibillion-dollar money laundering and corruption scandal that rocked Malaysia.

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

Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who faces multiple graft charges linked to 1MDB, has also dismissed the WSJ report, posting on his Facebook account: "There has not been such a thing".

This included surveilling WSJ reporters in Hong Kong who had been investigating 1MDB, the Journal reports, including by "full scale residence/office/device tapping, computer/phone/web data retrieval, and full operational surveillance." .

"China never attaches political conditions on our cooperation with other countries".

"We promote the Belt and Road initiative under the principles of wide consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits, with an aim to pursue shared development and prosperity", it said.

In exchange, the report said that Malaysia allegedly promised stakes in railway and pipeline projects as part of China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a major infrastructure drive seeking to link Asia, Europe and Africa.

Mahathir's finance minister Lim Guan Eng said the government would study the allegations made in the Journal report.

"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.

Fugitive Malaysian financier Jho Low, the alleged mastermind of the 1MDB fraud, drew up plans for Malaysian officials to meet the Chinese and attended some of the meetings, the paper said.

The US State Department alleges that US$4.5 billion was looted from the fund by Najib and his cronies, and spent on everything from artwork to high-end real estate. He pleaded not guilty and has consistently denied wrongdoing.

The Najib administration was said to have inflated the value of the projects to divert money to 1MDB, which was struggling to pay its debts.

The WSJ report by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope - the authors of Billion Dollar Whale - had cited previously undisclosed minutes from meetings between Malaysian and Chinese officials as well as sources from the new Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration for China.



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