KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 17 — 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) transferred at least US$850 million (RM3.7 billion) to a firm whose name closely mimics that of an investment company owned by Abu Dhabi’s sovereign fund, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported today.
Citing sources and financial documents that it sighted, the US newspaper said the Malaysian investment firm had in 2014 sent the amount to an “Aabar Investments PJS Ltd” that was registered in the British Virgin Islands.
The recipient firm’s name is almost identical to “Aabar Investments PJS” that is owned by Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC), which the WSJ previously reported was missing a US$1.4 billion payment from 1MDB.
The payments were made in three tranches by a “unit” of 1MDB, the WSJ reported without identifying the subsidiary in question.
“Executives at IPIC and Aabar investigating the transfers have concluded neither of the two Abu Dhabi funds ever owned or controlled the British Virgin Islands company, according to the people familiar with the matter,” the WSJ reported.
The newspaper also said it was unable to identify the individuals behind the copycat firm, saying that records obtained from the BVI did not provide details of the owners or directors of the firm.
The WSJ added that both IPIC and 1MDB declined comment, although the Malaysian firm said it stood by its financial statements that showed it remitted the sum the Abu Dhabi fund reportedly said it never received.
Today’s report by the WSJ is an update to its previous article alleging that a US$1.4 billion payment from 1MDB to IPIC, for guaranteeing the Malaysian firm’s US$3.5 billion bond issue in 2012, went missing.
1MDB previously denied the sum was missing, insisting that its records show the payments were made.
IPIC and Aabar are intricately linked to 1MDB. Aside from the previous bond guarantee, both are currently involved in a debt-restructuring agreement that is part of the Malaysian firm’s rationalisation plan.