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Malaysia's AmBank to pay $700 million in 1MDB-linked settlement

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysian banking group AMMB Holdings Berhad (AmBank) said on Friday it will pay the government 2.83 billion ringgit ($699 million) to settle claims linked to a massive financial scandal at state fund 1MDB, a hefty payment that is expected to have a material impact on the group’s earnings.

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask walks past an Ambank branch, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia September 9, 2020. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng/File Photo

AmBank Group has been under scrutiny over its role in the alleged theft of $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a state fund former prime minister Najib Razak set up in 2009.

Last year, Najib was found guilty of corruption and money laundering over the transfer of millions of dollars linked to a 1MDB unit into his Ambank accounts between 2014 and 2015. He denies wrongdoing and has filed an appeal.

In a filing with the bourse, AmBank said a provision for the sum will be recorded in the final quarter in the group’s financial year ending March 31.

That will translate to a loss of 93.89 sen per share, it said.

“While this will have a material impact on the current year’s profitability, there are adequate capital buffers to absorb this settlement without an immediate need to raise additional equity capital,” the group said.

The company will not be proposing any final dividends for the year ending March 31 as a result of the settlement, it added.

The finance ministry said in a statement Malaysia’s securities regulator will require AmInvestment Bank Berhad to take corrective measures, including putting in place systems and processes to strengthen its due diligence framework, as part of the settlement.

The payment will also be used to help settle 1MDB’s outstanding obligations, the ministry said.

The government said in November 1MDB was still $7.8 billion in debt following the scandal.

In 2015, the Malaysian central bank gave AmBank a 53.7 million ringgit fine for breaching certain financial regulations.

($1 = 4.0480 ringgit)

Reporting by Rozanna Latiff and Joseph Sipalan; Editing by David Goodman, Barbara Lewis and Jonathan Oatis

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