Turnbull – no, not that one – enters 1MDB fray

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Fact or fiction – a forthcoming book on 1MDB raises new whistleblowing story.

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An interesting name has turned up in the rolling 1MDB saga in Malaysia – as a whistleblower of sorts at Goldman Sachs, the international bank most closely connected to the scandal.

According to a forthcoming book, ‘Billion Dollar Whale, The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World,’ about 1MDB, one person who raised concerns internally at Goldman Sachs about the absurd fees the bank was earning from the deal was then disciplined by Goldman’s own compliance department. His name was Alex Turnbull.

Yes, that Turnbull. Alex is the son of Malcom Turnbull, who was until August the Australian prime minister and is a Goldman Sachs alumnus himself.

Complex

Alex left Goldman in 2014 and the story has got around that he was ousted for being a whistleblower. But, like everything else involving 1MDB, it’s not that simple. Alex was not on 1MDB, Goldman claims to have no record of emails he says he sent raising alarms about the 1MDB fees and it appears Alex may actually have left Goldman after compliance officers told him he could no longer trade in Australian media and technology securities, because his dad was then the communications minister.

In other news, in September a Singapore court ordered the return of S$15.3 million ($11.1 million) to Malaysia, part of S$240 million Singapore authorities seized in 2016 in cash and properties related to 1MDB. Considering that about $4.5 billion is alleged to have been siphoned from 1MDB, it’s a drop in the ocean. But it’s a start.