June 1, 2018 / 12:18 PM / 20 days ago

Malaysia on the hook for $13 billion of 1MDB's debts: finance minister

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia will have to pay about 50 billion ringgit ($12.57 billion) of beleaguered state fund 1MDB’s dues, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng told reporters on Friday.

FILE PHOTO: Men walk past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the fund's flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

The country’s new government has vowed to find out how funds went missing from 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, set up nearly a decade ago by former prime minister Najib Razak, a disappearance it says led to the finance ministry having to bail out the fund a year ago.

Last week, Lim said the government had guaranteed 38 billion ringgit of 1MDB’s debt at the end of 2017. The government had also already paid 7 billion ringgit of the fund’s dues since April 2017.

“If you look at the loans that we have to pay, we are looking at ballpark number 50 billion ringgit. Again, is that the whole picture?” Lim said, raising the possibility that the liabilities might exceed that figure.

The sum of 50 billion ringgit included interest and repayment of debts, he added.

Another focus for the government is how to cut federal debt and liabilities it puts at around 1 trillion ringgit ($251 billion).

It is reviewing all the country’s large projects, and has decided to ax a high-speed rail link between the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and neighboring Singapore. Lim said he hoped reviews of other projects would be finalised by year-end.

“We hope to have final decisions on projects by the end of the year, maybe earlier,” he said, adding that the government would look at the cost of each project and whether it was in the best interests of the country.

Reporting by A.Ananthalakshmi; Writing by John Geddie; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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