Two alleged 1MDB co-conspirators sent to jail in Abu Dhabi

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on June 17, 2019.

Khadem (left), named ‘first defendant’, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars and Mohammed Badawy, named ‘second defendant’, was given 10 years.

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KUALA LUMPUR: Two men linked to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) kleptocracy scandal have been convicted of financial crimes and sentenced to jail in Abu Dhabi, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing a statement from the emirate’s criminal court.

While the statement did not name the men, WSJ identified them as Khadem al Qubaisi, a United Arab Emirates (UAE) citizen who once led Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), and Mohammed Badawy al Husseiny, an American who ran a subsidiary of IPIC, after confirming their identities with people familiar with the judicial actions.

Khadem, formerly a top aide to the powerful Sheikh Mansour Zayed al Nahyan — UAE’s deputy prime minister and a member of the royal family — was sentenced to 15 years behind bars, while Mohammed Badawy was given 10 years.

On top of that, they have to jointly pay about €300 million (RM1.4 billion) — half to IPIC, referred to as the “victim company”, and half as a penalty — the journal wrote, citing the criminal court.

No details of the charges were mentioned in the statement, other than that Khadem was the “first defendant” and was convicted of “exploiting his job and unlawfully appropriating €149 million after selling shares he owns for the company he heads, without disclosing his ownership of the shares, for €210 million.”

The journal noted no other details of the transaction were provided.

“ ... but people familiar with the conviction said it wasn’t related to the Malaysian fund scandal. The statement said the investigations were part of a broader investigation by the Abu Dhabi Public Funds Prosecution into allegations of corruption,” it wrote.

Khadem previously claimed in an interview with the paper in January, when he was held at the Al Wathba prison in Abu Dhabi, that he was being made a “scapegoat” for the UAE’s role in the 1MDB scandal, and that Emirati authorities were also trying to force him to turn over his assets.

“I did this deal but I did it on behalf of the government of Abu Dhabi,” he was quoted as saying, though he did not address any specific allegations against him. “Now they are putting everything on my back,” he added. Sheikh Mansour, formerly chairman of IPIC, did not respond to a request for comment at the time.

Mohammed Badawy, on the other hand, was named the “second defendant” in the statement and was convicted of “exploiting his position and facilitating the seizure of the company’s money by” Khadem, the journal wrote.

It added that the lawyers for both men and a representative of the Abu Dhabi Criminal Court declined to comment on the charges.

The US Department of Justice previously said some US$4.5 billion is believed to have been siphoned off from 1MDB, the Malaysian strategic investment fund that became the centre of investigations in several countries. Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who set up the fund, has been slapped with over 42 counts of corruption and money laundering charges in relation to it. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, following the change in government after Najib’s downfall, Malaysia has been working with at least six countries to recover the billions of assets allegedly stolen from 1MDB.