UPDATE: 4:41 a.m. EDT — Investigations related to Malaysia’s state-run fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad across the world have not showed finances were misappropriated at 1MDB, the country’s Attorney General Mohamed Apandi said Thursday.
The comments come after U.S. prosecutors said more than $3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB. Apandi issued a statement saying that no criminal charges have been made against any individuals for embezzlement from 1MDB. Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s office said that Malaysia will “fully cooperate” with any investigation into the state-run fund. The U.S. Department of Justice in a court filing Wednesday said that it is seeking to seize more than $1 billion in assets linked to the fund.
The United States has moved to confiscate luxury properties across affluent areas of New York and California as part of an investigation into Malaysian state-run fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad’s (1MDB) “misappropriate” finances, according to a court filing Wednesday by the Department of Justice. Most of the real estate has been linked to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz and close associate Jho Low.
The U.S. is trying to seize 11 properties as part of the investigation. The DOJ said that more than $3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB in alleged fraud committed over a four-year time frame. The department said in the filing that it is seeking to seize more than $1 billion of assets linked to the fund.
Riza is one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated movie “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The film company, Red Granite Pictures, which Riza founded with Joey McFarland in 2010, received $155 million in loans from 1MDB, much of which went to finance the movie, according to the Wall Street Journal. The money came through bond offerings underwritten by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Wednesday’s court filing stated.
In May, the Journal reported that about $1 billion meant for a joint venture between PetroSaudi International Ltd. and 1MDB ended up in a bank account of Good Star Ltd., a company set up by Low and registered in Seychelles. Moreover, $529 million from Good Star was transferred to a corporate bank account controlled by Low in Singapore, a police investigation in Singapore revealed, according to the newspaper.
Both Riza and Low have denied any wrongdoing. Low had said he was an unofficial adviser to 1MDB occasionally.
Meanwhile, in Wednesday’s filing, the DOJ said that the misappropriate funds were transferred from 1MDB to the co-founder of PetroSaudi. Those funds, then, were transferred to a top official in the Malaysian government identified as “Malaysian Official One.”
“The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale,” Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe reportedly said Wednesday. The seizure of 1MDB’s assets would be the largest ever by the department’s anticorruption division, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The DOJ said that the misappropriate funds made way through shell companies, checks, wire transfers and accounts with Deutsche Bank AG, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Rothschild Bank AG and BSI Bank Ltd. However, these banks were not accused of misconduct.
“Unfortunately and tragically, a number of corrupt officials treated this public trust as a personal bank account,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch reportedly said Wednesday.
Najib, who set up 1MDB in 2009 to boost economic growth in the Southeast Asian country, has been linked to the corruption scandal at the fund from which $681 million was traced to bank accounts allegedly owned by him. 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.