by Shamim Adam
June 14, 2016
Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, embroiled in a debt payment dispute with 1Malaysia Development Bhd., is seeking $6.5 billion from the troubled Malaysian state investment company as it moves the spat into arbitration.
1MDB and its sole shareholder — Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance — haven’t perform their obligations toward International Petroleum Investment Co. PJSC, the Abu Dhabi fund said in a London stock exchange filing on Tuesday. IPIC and unit Aabar Investments PJS submitted the request to the London Court of International Arbitration, it said.
The Malaysian investment fund and IPIC are locked in a tussle that spilled over to repayments on bonds issued by 1MDB. That led to a default in April, adding to the financial scandals for the Malaysian company that’s already a target of global probes into alleged money laundering and embezzlement. 1MDB has denied wrongdoing.
“The failure of 1MDB and MOF to perform their obligations, cure their defaults or put forward acceptable proposals has left IPIC in the position where it must pursue its claims in arbitration,” IPIC said. “The claim will be determined by an arbitral tribunal that will comprise of three arbitrators.”
1MDB didn’t immediately to an e-mail and phone calls seeking comment. A Ministry of Finance spokeswoman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.
IPIC entered into an agreement with 1MDB in May 2015 to provide the Malaysian fund $1 billion to settle some liabilities in exchange for a transfer of assets, and assume interest obligations on $3.5 billion of debt. 1MDB and Malaysia’s finance ministry “are in default” on the terms of a binding term sheet, IPIC said in April.
IPIC, which had guaranteed two sets of 1MDB debt, made payments after the Malaysian company missed them in April and May. 1MDB reiterated to bondholders last month its commitment to resolving the dispute.
A report by a Malaysian parliamentary committee in April identified at least $4.2 billion of questionable transactions by 1MDB, including those involving the Abu Dhabi companies. The bipartisan group said it couldn’t verify a $2.1 billion payment to Aabar Investments PJS Ltd.
IPIC has denied ownership of the company that received the funds known as Aabar Investments PJS Limited, or Aabar BVI. IPIC’s unit has a slightly different name to the one that 1MDB transferred money to. 1MDB has said it negotiated “various legal agreements” with the previous heads of IPIC and Aabar, and called it a “surprising claim” that neither Gulf company knew of payments to Aabar BVI.