The Masters Of The Universe Strike Back!

They may not be the ‘rocket scientists’ they claim, but Alex Turnbull, as an ex-Goldman Sachs man himself, must surely have been aware that America’s top bankers are ruthless.

Yesterday, the young man was cut to shreds by the ‘unattributed leak’ of his resignation email to the firm, which showed that his reason for stomping off had nothing to do with being a ‘whistleblower over 1MDB‘ and everything to do with him trying to trade off his Dad’s political portfolio in the Australian government, which the bank was rightly wary of him doing.

The authors of the Wall Street Journal’s up-coming book on the matter, which apparently treated Turnbull Jnr as a key hero in the 1MDB saga, had better adjust their text accordingly.  Goldman are saying publicly that he was not involved in the deal at all.

All this leaves Mr Turnbull’s father, Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian PM (himself an ex-Goldman Sachs partner), in an even stickier position than ever as he faces meeting Malaysia’s kleptocrat at the centre of the whole affair, Prime Minister Najib Razak, next week in Canberra.

Local bloggers have been questioning why Australia has done nothing to investigate 1MDB, when its ANZ Bank was at the centre of the whole affair, as the controlling entity of AmBank, where Najib held his toxic, 1MDB supplied accounts.

Malaysian finance journalist Ganesh Sahathevan has suggested one reason might be that young Alex would have got a bonus from the deal himself.

There is a far more serious concern, which is that the Turnbull Government recently appointed yet another ex-Goldman Sachs manager to be the head of the regulator ASIC, which has been so notably negligent in probing ANZ. Alex may not have been involved in the 1MDB deals concerning Goldman, but James Shipton most definately was, as the head of governance and regulatory affairs for the bank in the South East Asia region.  This, after all, would have been the biggest deal ever by Goldman in the region – he must have signed it off.

Those in Glass Houses

As older and wiser heads would doubtless have suggested to Alex Turnbull, had he bothered to ever ask, outbursts have a way of rebounding on the source.

This whole affair is now gathering pace and further dirt as it starts to spin into a veritable political storm down-under, thanks to his intemperate remarks and threats to sue Sahathevan.

Because, as the saying goes, those in glass houses ought never throw stones and now the ammo is pelting back. It is not just that dodgy matter of Alex trying to invest in matters related to his father’s communications portfolio.

Now other accusations have been made, doubtless most unfairly, which is that the young banker made a killing by investing in the previously floundering wind energy sector in Australia, just before his Dad unexpectedly signed up to the Paris climate change agreements.

It is the penalty of trying to mix business and politics into the same family, as other businessman politicians have found.  Brick bats and accusations are hard to avoid when financial interests are so easily implicated.

Which is why Najib’s visit to Australia is rapidly becoming toxic and a front page issue for Turnbull, thanks ultimately to 1MDB.

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