Prosecutors seek court change for Goldman Sachs’s 1MDB trial

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, center, arrives for his hearing in Kuala Lumpur. Najib is facing 42 charges of corruption, abuse of power and money laundering linked to the multibillion-dollar looting of 1MDB. (AP)
Updated 22 October 2019

Prosecutors seek court change for Goldman Sachs’s 1MDB trial

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian prosecutors on Tuesday sought a court change for Goldman Sachs’s criminal trial over its role in the alleged multibillion-dollar ransacking of state investment fund 1MDB.

Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, a lawyer for Goldman, said that prosecutors informed the magistrate court now hearing the case that they had applied to transfer it to the high court. He said the lower court scheduled an update on the transfer to be heard Dec. 16.

Prosecutors did not give any reasons for the transfer but a move to a higher court usually reflects the seriousness of the case.

Malaysian and US prosecutors allege bond sales organized by Goldman Sachs for 1MDB provided one of the means for associates of former Malaysian leader Najib Razak to steal billions from a fund that was ostensibly set up to accelerate Malaysia’s economic development.

Three Goldman subsidiaries and two former executives were charged in December for alleged breaches of securities laws including making false, misleading statements to investors. Another 17 more current and former directors at Goldman were charged in August with allegedly conniving to commit the massive fraud.

FASTFACT

Former Malaysian leader Najib Razak set up 1MDB when he took office in 2009.

Hisyam declined to comment on the allegations. Goldman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Najib set up 1MDB when he took office in 2009, but it accumulated billions in debts and US investigators allege at least $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund and laundered by Najib’s associates.

Public anger over the alleged corruption contributed to the election defeat of Najib’s long-ruling coalition in May 2018. Najib is now on trial for multiple charges of corruption over the 1MDB case and was in the same court building Tuesday for his second trial. Najib denies the charges. His wife and stepson also have been charged over the scandal.


India opens vast railway network to private players

Updated 45 min 39 sec ago

India opens vast railway network to private players

  • The 167-year-old train network carries 20 million passengers daily
  • India’s railway ministry said it would now permit businesses to run trains along 109 routes
MUMBAI: India has opened up its vast railway sector to private companies, allowing firms to operate trains on certain routes, in a bid to boost its stuttering, virus-hit economy.
The 167-year-old train network carries 20 million passengers daily but is plagued by deadly accidents, rickety infrastructure, lack of modern amenities and poor investment.
In an announcement late Wednesday, the railway ministry said it would now permit businesses to run trains along 109 routes, inviting bids from firms weeks after New Delhi opened up coal mining to the private sector.
“This is the first initiative of private investment for running passenger trains over Indian Railways network,” the ministry said in a statement.
“The objective of this initiative is to introduce modern technology rolling stock with reduced maintenance, reduced transit time, boost job creation, provide enhanced safety, provide world class travel experience to passengers,” it added.
The project will require an investment of $39.8 million and private players will have to pay the government fixed haul charges and a percentage of profits determined during the bidding process.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has sought to privatize a range of industries that have been under state control for decades, sparking criticism from the opposition Congress party.
“Now the government is in a desperate mood to sell a great chunk of one of our largest national asset #IndianRailways,” Congress politician Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury tweeted.
“Privatization cannot be construed as a panacea of railways malady,” he added.
The tottering network is notorious for accidents, with 15,000 passengers killed every year according to a 2012 government report that described the deaths as a “massacre.”
Asia’s third-largest economy has been clobbered by the pandemic and a months-long lockdown, growing at its slowest pace in at least two decades last quarter.
The shutdown, which put millions out of work overnight, is widely expected to plunge the country into recession.
Fears for the economy prompted the government to allow many businesses to resume operations starting last month despite an ongoing increase in infections, which have now crossed 600,000.
Even before Modi announced the lockdown in late March, the economy was struggling to gain traction with sluggish growth, record unemployment and a flurry of bad loans making banks reluctant to lend.