Asia Malaysia 1MDB bond meant to fund Najib's election

1MDB bond meant to fund Najib’s election

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Former Goldman Sachs banker Tim Leissner believes a bond issue for 1MDB aimed to support Najib in the 2013 general elections in a damaging declaration for ex-Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Leissner said that fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, assured him that he and his colleague Roger Ng would not earn kickbacks on the bond since the money from the transaction – known as Project Catalyze – was to be used for the next general election in 2013.

He revealed this when testifying as a key witness in Ng’s trial on February 24, 2022, in New York.

Ng has been charged with breaking anti-bribery statutes in the United States as well as money laundering.

Prior to the bond, 1MDB had raised money from two more bonds from which he and his then-colleague Roger Ng received millions in kickbacks.

Drew Rolle, the prosecutor, asked Leissner whether he understood why he wouldn’t get compensated for Catalyze as part of this bargain.

Jho Low, according to Leissner, told both Roger and him that there would be an election in Malaysia and that the funds from Project Catalyze would be used for electoral reasons.

And there was no place for receiving kickbacks as a result of, you know, having to pay, having to fund that election out of Project Catalyze. Jho Low apparently had full control of the money from Catalyze.

According to Leissner, he was taught that giving “handouts” to voters was “standard practise.”

“Buying an election in this context suggested to me that some of the money that Project Catalyze was gathering was going to be utilised to essentially pay some of those giveaways that I was aware of that occurred in Malaysia,” he explained.

Najib won the 2013 elections narrowly, defeating the Pakatan Harapan with Anwar Ibrahim as the leader. Najib’s coalition, the Barisan Nasional won less than 50% of votes in that elections but garnered sufficient seats to retain power.

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