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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

IPIC vs 1MDB, round 2, in court

Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) will continue the publicly scrutinized dispute against 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB)...I would call it a round 2, in court. 

IPIC vs 1MDB (round 2), in court

IPIC is seeking $6.5 billion from the troubled Malaysian state investment company as it moves the spat into arbitration.

The request for arbitration (RFA) is in regard to IPIC's claim that 1MDB and the Ministry of Finance (MoF Inc) have failed to perform their contractual obligations under the binding term sheet (BTS). 

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 dispute between IPIC and 1MDB arose after the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund said that it never received a US$3.5 billion payment from 1MDB. It revealed that the British Virgins Island-registered Aabar Investment PJS Ltd, to whom 1MDB said it had paid the sum, is not related to the group.

Subsequently, 1MDB defaulted on two interest payments of US$3.5 billion for two 1MDB bonds due in April and May, and IPIC has assumed the US$3.5 billion payment for the two interest payments as a co-guarantor of the bonds.

Despite 1MDB defaulting on the interest payments, the strategic investment fund has repeatedly said that it has sufficient liquidity to meet its financial obligation.

"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 in a filing with the London Stock Exchange yesterday. 

It added that the claim will be determined by an arbitral tribunal that will comprise three arbitrators in accordance with the BTS and the LCIA rules.

In response, 1MDB issued a statement saying that the fund and its legal counsel will review the RFA once it has been served with a copy.

According to a report by Bloomberg, 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.

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