The US Justice Department said today that RM1.9 billion (US$452 million) worth of funds that were allegedly misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, have been repatriated to Malaysia.
The amount that was returned to Malaysia was said to be laundered through major financial institutions around the world including in the U.S, Switzerland, Singapore, and Luxembourg, court documents showed. This comes a day after Malaysians learned that RM114 million worth of assets that were seized from ex-prime minister Najib Razak’s property in 2018 had been returned to him and the UMNO political party.
A total of 41 civil forfeiture actions were filed in the U.S in 2016, mostly in California, by the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. This led to the seizure of more than US$1.7 billion in stolen assets, described as “the largest recovery to date”’ under the department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
The department began the first tranche of returns in May 2019. Total returned funds are now at US$1.2 billion.
“The department continues to litigate actions against additional assets allegedly linked to this scheme,” the Justice Department, or DoJ, said in a statement. The same department revealed several years ago that more than US$4.5 billion in funds belonging to 1MDB were allegedly misappropriated from 2009 to 2015 by high-level officials within 1MDB, their associates, and Low Taek Jho (Jho Low). The funds were believed to be stolen through a scheme involving international money laundering and embezzlement. Some of the proceeds purportedly went into funding bribes.
“Funds held by 1MDB and proceeds of bonds issued for and on behalf of 1MDB were taken and spent on luxury items, including homes and properties in Beverly Hills, New York, and London; a 300-foot (91.4m) superyacht; and, fine art by Monet and Van Gogh,” the department said.
They were also spent on a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, a movie production company that made The Wolf of Wall Street, Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan, EMI shares, and allegedly on various public officials and co-conspirators.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!