KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The president and chief executive of the troubled state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) on Thursday (May 24) said he was considering taking legal action against Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng for making "personal attacks" against him.
In comments made in his personal capacity, Mr Arul Kanda Kandasamy said it was unfair of Mr Lim to issue a public statement following their meeting on Wednesday that did not fully and accurately represent the circumstances under which questions had been posed to him.
"The circumstances I was in and the context of my answers were conveniently left out such that it produces a false impression and put me in a bad light," Mr Arul said.
“More importantly, I strongly deny the potentially defamatory and personal attacks against me by the Minister of Finance," he said.
“Therefore, in my personal capacity, not in relation to my employment and specifically only in relation to his statement, I have sought legal advice from my lawyers to advise me on my options,” he added.
The fund, set up by former prime minister Najib Razak in 2009, is facing investigations by the newly elected Pakatan Harapan government into some US$4.5 billion that was allegedly misappropriated from the firm.
Mr Lim, who took office this week, had meetings with Mr Arul, former 1MDB chief financial officer Azmi Tahir and former 1MDB general counsel Ivan Chen at the ministry on Wednesday.
Mr Lim also met separately with 1MDB directors Norazman Ayob and Kamal Mohd Ali.
Following the meetings, Mr Lim told a press conference the two directors had informed the ministry that 1MDB is insolvent and unable to repay its debts.
Mr Lim also lambasted Mr Arul as "utterly dishonest and untrustworthy", after Mr Arul claimed that all financial matters were handled strictly by the company's chief financial officer.
Mr Arul on Thursday said it was unfair of the minister to make a public statement putting him in a bad light, adding that he had joined 1MDB only in 2015, after the alleged wrongdoings at the company had occurred.
“It cannot be disputed that I joined 1MDB only in January 2015, that is to say, after the actions of previous management and boards resulted in 1MDB amassing its debt burden, and after many of 1MDB's projects were in difficulties," he said.
Mr Arul had been touring the country just before the country's polls on May 9, saying that the fund's exercise to pare debts was working well.
Responding to Mr Arul's possible legal suit, Mr Lim said he was unsure if Mr Arul would proceed with the legal action, but added that he was free to do so.
“Arul Kanda has made many promises and if he said that he wants to sue, we will be waiting for him,” Mr Lim told reporters.
He noted that Mr Arul is the sole employee of 1MDB which is owned by his ministry. Asked if the ministry would sack Mr Arul, Mr Lim said that the ministry would take things “step by step”.