Abu Dhabi authorities took Emirati businessman Khadem Al Qubaisi into custody for his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal surrounding Malaysian state-run fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday citing people familiar with the matter.
Qubaisi, believed to be a key figure in the alleged fraud, was arrested last week as part of an Abu Dhabi probe into fraud and corruption, according to the Journal. His assets in the United Arab Emirates had been previously frozen and he was also barred from leaving the country.
Qubaisi is also being investigated by American authorities for his dealings and funds he's suspected of acquiring through the alleged 1MDB corruption, sources told the Journal. In last month’s court filings, the Justice Department sought to freeze his $100 million worth property in the U.S. The officials suspect he bought the real estate from money derived from the 1MDB fraud.
The U.S. government complaint reportedly said that Qubaisi got about $470 million illegally from the Malaysian fund. According to prosecutors, he allegedly bought a $51 million penthouse in New York’s Walker Tower and two mansions in Los Angeles worth a total of $46 million.
Qubaisi has not addressed the allegations.
The DOJ has said that more than $3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB in alleged fraud committed over a four-year period. It added that it is seeking to seize more than $1 billion of assets linked to the fund, including 11 luxury properties in the U.S. The department said that 1MDB’s misappropriated funds made their way through shell companies, checks, wire transfers and accounts with Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Rothschild Bank AG and BSI Bank Ltd. Those banks were not accused of misconduct.
Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is at the center of the alleged fraud, had established 1MDB in 2009 to spur economic growth in the country. However, the fund has been linked to the corruption scandal, in which $681 million belonging to 1MDB was traced to bank accounts allegedly owned by Najib. The prime minister has consistently denied the corruption allegations, first made in a July 2015 report by the Journal, which said that investigators tracked the money from an account at Falcon Private Bank in Singapore to accounts in Malaysia.