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Mahathir defends 2018 meet with fund managers that included controversial US firm
Published on: Saturday, June 22, 2024
By: FMT, Mohamad Fadli
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Mahathir defends 2018 meet with fund managers that included controversial US firm
Dr Mahathir Mohamad said his meeting with fund managers in 2018 that included BlackRock was only to ‘find out what they could do’. (Facebook pic)
PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has defended his meeting with fund managers in the UK in 2018, which included US asset management firm BlackRock.

He said Israel had not committed genocide at the time, and no actual agreement had been made with the firm as the meeting was more about “finding out what they could do”.

“Now we see how nasty and inhumane Israel has been. The oppression of Palestinians had been going on, but it wasn’t as serious. Today, they sometimes kill 100 people a day.

“This is inhuman, and the worst part of it is that the US is supporting this. Genocide is taking place. Policies must change according to what is happening on the ground,” he said at a press conference today.

On Oct 1, 2018, Mahathir’s Facebook account announced that he had given a briefing highlighting Malaysia’s investment prospects to fund managers including BlackRock, PIMCO, and Amundi, at a meeting organised by HSBC in London.

On Facebook on Thursday, he questioned Global Infrastructure Partners’ (GIP) impending purchase of 30% of MAHB’s shares with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

He joined the chorus of those urging Putrajaya to scrap the deal because of GIP’s ties with BlackRock, which has been accused of “profiteering from genocide” through its stakes in US defence firms that allegedly manufacture weapons used by Israel.

“When I heard that MAHB will sell shares to a US company, my assumption was that MAHB was losing money,” Mahathir said.

“Now, I have heard that MAHB made a profit of RM543 million in 2023. Not many companies make this kind of profit. Why sell 30% to a US company supporting Israel? I do not understand this.”

GIP has defended itself, saying BlackRock is not involved in the move to privatise MAHB, despite BlackRock agreeing to acquire GIP in January.

GIP’s head of transport, Phil Iley, said BlackRock’s acquisition of the company would only be completed in the third quarter of 2024.

“After the transaction closes, GIP’s existing leadership team will retain full control and responsibility for the strategic direction and operation of GIP and the companies in which we have invested,” he said.

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