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KL seeks talks with Goldman to recover US$600m: Anwar

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Malaysia is seeking direct talks with Goldman Sachs Group Inc to recoup more than US$600 million that the bank earned from raising funds for troubled state fund 1MDB, the country's leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim has confirmed.

Istanbul

MALAYSIA is seeking direct talks with Goldman Sachs Group Inc to recoup more than US$600 million that the bank earned from raising funds for troubled state fund 1MDB, the country's leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim has confirmed.

Goldman has lost US$11 billion from its market value since Mr Anwar said on Nov 12 that the country is seeking a "full refund" of what the bank made for arranging bond sales for scandal-ridden 1MDB.

Mr Anwar expected that market pressure will be enough to push the lender to come to the negotiating table, but noted a lawsuit is a second option.

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"We are quite optimistic that they're responding," Mr Anwar said in an interview in Istanbul. "They have been adversely affected by all this and we have options: negotiate with them, which is probably best for Malaysia", or litigation, he said.

Malaysia has held initial discussions with the US Justice Department to seek help to recoup the funds, Mr Anwar said.

The US filed forfeiture lawsuits against US$1.7 billion of assets that it said were bought using money stolen from 1MDB, including mansions in California, luxury condos in New York, jewellery, artworks and a US$250 million yacht once owned by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.

The yacht has since been put up for auction in a judicial sale process, with bidding that closed on Wednesday.

Global investigations into 1MDB have picked up pace since Malaysia's new government reopened a domestic probe and Tim Leissner, Goldman's former South-east Asia chairman, pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and violate foreign bribery laws.

Goldman spokesman Edward Naylor referred to an earlier comment he provided, which noted the commissions reflected "the risks we assumed at the time, specifically movement in credit spreads tied to the specific bonds, hedging costs and underlying market conditions".

Discussions with Goldman will start with Malaysia seeking at least US$600 million, Mr Anwar said, with the country expecting to get a higher amount as negotiations continue.

The bank made US$593 million for arranging three bond sales that raised US$6.5 billion for 1MDB, which was "exorbitant", he said.

"We hope this can be resolved pretty fast," Mr Anwar said. "How can you refuse to cooperate when you understand that billions have been squandered from the public purse?" BLOOMBERG

READ MORE: 1MDB emerging as a global, not just Malaysian, corruption scandal