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US reportedly investigating 1MDB ties to acquisition of US energy company

  • U.S. authorities are probing whether the $2.2 billion purchase of U.S. energy company Coastal Energy was partly financed with funds allegedly funneled from Malaysian wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • A shell company controlled by Malaysian financier Jho Low was a party to the deal via a joint venture with IPIC-controlled Cepsa, the report said.
Authorities around the world, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore have looked into anti-money laundering breaches relating to 1MDB.
Olivia Harris | Reuters
Authorities around the world, including the United States, Switzerland and Singapore have looked into anti-money laundering breaches relating to 1MDB.

U.S. authorities are probing whether the $2.2 billion purchase of U.S. energy company Coastal Energy was partly financed with funds allegedly funneled from Malaysian wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The buyer of Coastal Energy was a joint venture between Compañía Española de Petróleos SAU, or Cepsa, owned by Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund International Petroleum Investment Co., or IPIC, and a shell company controlled by Malaysian financier Jho Low, according to a U.S. Department of Justice asset-seizure lawsuit dated on Wednesday, the report said.

The lawsuit and statements announcing the deal said Low invested $50 million and Cepsa funded the remainder, the report said, adding that the lawsuit stated that a week later, Cepsa transferred $350 million to Low's shell company.

Goldman Sachs, which had around $600 million in revenue from 1MDB in 2012-2013 for bond deals, advised Cepsa on the acquisition, but didn't have Low as a client, the report said.

Goldman said it was unaware of any transaction which involved the shell company selling its joint venture stake back to Cepsa, according to the report.

The bank's compliance department told bankers to stop working with Low and his shell company, citing concerns over his wealth, the report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The report said Low's whereabouts were unclear, but that he had previously denied wrongdoing. CNBC was unable to contact him for comment.

Coastal Energy did not immediately return CNBC's emailed request for comment, which was sent outside of office hours.

Goldman Sachs did not comment on the WSJ report but provided this statement:

"Neither Jho Low, Jynwel or SRG were a client of Goldman Sachs in connection with the Coastal Energy acquisition.

"Prior to reading the government filing, GS was not aware of, and had no involvement in, any transaction in which SRG sold its stake in a joint venture back to CEPSA."

1MDB didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

The full Wall Street Journal article can be read here.

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