‘Malaysian people defrauded on a massive scale’: FBI on 1MDB scandal

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1MDB siteUS federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit on July 20 in order to seize more than $1 billion in assets they believe were obtained with funds siphoned off a scandal-ridden Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

“The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale,” said Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe at a news conference announcing the complaints. The asset seizure would be the largest ever by the Justice Department’s anti-corruption unit.

At the same time, Singapore authorities said they are seizing $177 million in assets in the course of an investigation of 1MDB-related fund flows for possible money laundering. They also said they found “control failures” at three banks, DBS Group and the local branches of UBS and Standard Chartered.

Among the US Justice Department’s assertions is that the money was plowed into hotels, as well as luxury real estate in Manhattan, Beverly Hills and London; into fine art; a private jet and the 2013 Hollywood film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Among those behind the spending, the lawsuit alleges, was Riza Aziz, stepson of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib has been at the center of the scandal since it turned out last year that hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB found the way into his personal bank account. Although Najib has said he had done “nothing wrong” and that any suggestions of wrongdoing were political attacks, independent investigations proved otherwise.

However, the lawsuit doesn’t name Najib and no charges were brought against him directly, but there are 32 references in the complaint to a “Malaysian Official 1,” who allegedly received hundreds of millions of dollars in funds siphoned from 1MDB.

Descriptions of the “Official 1” in the filings include information about Najib’s position at 1MDB along with other identifying details, saying that the person is “a high-ranking official in the Malaysian government who also held a position of authority with 1MDB.”

Malaysian opposition party leader called on Najib “to go on leave as prime minister” following the US lawsuit, demanding an independent commission in Malaysia investigate the corruption claims.

A Najib spokesman said that Malaysia will cooperate fully with any lawful investigation of its companies or citizens. However, a cabinet minister said on July 21 that there was “nothing to hide” and that “1MDB has been the subject of an unprecedented politically motivated attack, the objective of which was to unseat a democratically elected head of government.”

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US federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit on July 20 in order to seize more than $1 billion in assets they believe were obtained with funds siphoned off a scandal-ridden Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). “The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale,” said Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe at a news conference announcing the complaints. The asset seizure would be the largest ever by the Justice Department’s anti-corruption unit. At the same time, Singapore authorities said they are seizing $177 million in assets in the course of an investigation of 1MDB-related fund flows for possible money...

Reading Time: 2 minutes

1MDB siteUS federal prosecutors filed a civil lawsuit on July 20 in order to seize more than $1 billion in assets they believe were obtained with funds siphoned off a scandal-ridden Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

“The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale,” said Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe at a news conference announcing the complaints. The asset seizure would be the largest ever by the Justice Department’s anti-corruption unit.

At the same time, Singapore authorities said they are seizing $177 million in assets in the course of an investigation of 1MDB-related fund flows for possible money laundering. They also said they found “control failures” at three banks, DBS Group and the local branches of UBS and Standard Chartered.

Among the US Justice Department’s assertions is that the money was plowed into hotels, as well as luxury real estate in Manhattan, Beverly Hills and London; into fine art; a private jet and the 2013 Hollywood film “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Among those behind the spending, the lawsuit alleges, was Riza Aziz, stepson of Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Najib has been at the center of the scandal since it turned out last year that hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB found the way into his personal bank account. Although Najib has said he had done “nothing wrong” and that any suggestions of wrongdoing were political attacks, independent investigations proved otherwise.

However, the lawsuit doesn’t name Najib and no charges were brought against him directly, but there are 32 references in the complaint to a “Malaysian Official 1,” who allegedly received hundreds of millions of dollars in funds siphoned from 1MDB.

Descriptions of the “Official 1” in the filings include information about Najib’s position at 1MDB along with other identifying details, saying that the person is “a high-ranking official in the Malaysian government who also held a position of authority with 1MDB.”

Malaysian opposition party leader called on Najib “to go on leave as prime minister” following the US lawsuit, demanding an independent commission in Malaysia investigate the corruption claims.

A Najib spokesman said that Malaysia will cooperate fully with any lawful investigation of its companies or citizens. However, a cabinet minister said on July 21 that there was “nothing to hide” and that “1MDB has been the subject of an unprecedented politically motivated attack, the objective of which was to unseat a democratically elected head of government.”

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