Give Shabery Cheek the benefit of the doubt for making such an embarrassing statement – let him read the 136-page DOJ suit to confiscate over US$1 billion of 1MDB-linked assets in US and declare whether he would say the same thing

Let us give the Minister for Agriculture and Agro-based Industries, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who is former university lecturer, the benefit of the doubt that he had neither the time nor opportunity to read the US Department of Justice (DOJ)’s 136-page civil suits filed four days ago under the US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative 2010 to confiscate over US$1 billion of 1MDB-linked assets in the United States as to make such a “irresponsible”, “outrageous”, “desperate” and “embarrassing” statement (terms rightly used by PKR central committee member Latheefa Koya) that the DOJ legal suits were a “normal matter”.

Let Shabery read and digest what are in the DOJ’s 136-page legal suits for civil forfeiture against assets allegedly bought with money looted from Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB.

The DOJ said that more than US$3.5 billion (RM14.2 billion) was misappropriated from 1MDB but the forfeiture action targeted about US1 billion in assets located in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland which include mansions and penthouses, a US$35 million executive jet and artwork.

The DOJ said the assets are “traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1MDB.”

Let Shabery read the DOJ’s legal suits and then declare whether he would stand by what he had said, that US DOJ’s civil forfeiture actions seeking to impound assets acquired from funds allegedly embezzled from government investment arm 1MDB is nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the Malaysian government. Read the rest of this entry »

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What is most shocking is the total lack of shock of Najib and Cabinet Ministers to the US DOJ’s horrendous 136-page legal suit under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative (KARI) exposing the host of theft, misappropriation and embezzlement of tens of billions of ringgit of Malaysian public funds

In about a month’s time, we will be celebrating the 59th National Day and 53rd Malaysia Day anniversaries, but the last three days had been the most shameful, humiliating and mortifying period in the six decades of the nation’s history for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, region or political affiliation..

Never before had Malaysia been condemned and crucified in the global society as a thoroughly corrupt and decadent country, as when the US Attorney-General Loretta E Lynch, told an international audience through Internet livestreaming of her press conference in United States that the American authorities are trying to recover for the Malaysian people billions of ringgit stolen from them by corrupt officials meant “to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people”.

Referring to the billions of ringgit that were “stolen, laundered through the American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates”, Loretta said “Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes.”

The 136-page US Department of Justice (DOJ) legal suit under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is a “tale of infamy and horror” about the multiple failures of democratic good governance and key national institutions in Malaysia – not just the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, Parliament but also institutions like the Police, the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Bank Negara, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Judiciary – that such mammoth and monstrous global white-collar crimes could take place under their watch.

What I also find most shocking in the past three days over the DOJ legal suit to recover more than US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets in the United States is the total lack of shock of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his Cabinet Ministers and government politicians to the US DOJ’s horrendous 136-page legal suit under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative (KARI) exposing the litany of theft, misappropriation and embezzlement of tens of billions of ringgit of Malaysian public funds. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia has been betrayed by Prime Minister Najib Razak

Dr. Azeem Ibrahim
Alarabiya.net
22 July 2016

I have argued time and again that the greatest threat to the Muslim world is not the West, but rather, corruption and incompetence in administration in the Muslim countries themselves.

To this argument there were a number of crucial pieces of evidence. First of all, there is a clear inverse correlation between corruption and economic development not just in the Middle East, but globally. Secondly, Muslim countries are among the most corrupt countries in the world, and this maps well to the problems we know well from the region.

In this sense, the abundance of natural resources has served to mask much of the problem, as per capita wealth in the region comes out as much higher than it would have been for a given level of corruption, and that distorts the perception of societal problems in these countries.

For another, that abundance of wealth can be used to buy off the acquiescence of the population to an otherwise questionable regime, as is the case with the benefits that these states lavish upon their population, or alternatively, can be used to fund extensive repressive police and intelligence apparatuses to keep the population in check, as was the case in Saddam-era Iraq.

But there was also plenty of converse evidence, specifically states on the periphery of the Islamic world which did not conform the region’s reputation for corruption. Most notably, we had the examples of Turkey and of Malaysia. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Real Problem? It’s Indonesia

By WILLIAM PESEK
Barron’s Asia
July 22, 2016

Malaysia’s complacency and drift under Najib Razak may see Indonesia zoom past it in the years ahead.

Najib Razak faces an international crisis. Not just with Loretta Lynch, the U.S. attorney-general, calling out official corruption in his Malaysia and seizing more than $1 billion in assets. And not just with investors frustrated with the complacency undermining his economy. The real problem for the scandal-plagued prime minister is Indonesia.

As Najib’s government circles the wagons to protect their man from international pressures, Indonesia’s newish leader, Joko Widodo, is welcoming them. It’s taken Widodo, who’s known as Jokowi, some time to find his reformist groove. But at the 641-day mark, there’s ample evidence that Jokowi is proving to be the anti-Najib in ways that could enrich Indonesians at Malaysians’ expense.

Admittedly, it seems odd to refer to Jokowi as “newish” one year and nine months into the job. But considering the fantastically-entrenched vested interests this political outsider is up against, and how close Indonesia was to failed statehood just 18 years ago, consolidating power and finding ones footing in Jakarta takes time. Jokowi is now rolling up his sleeves to address impediments to growth, and it’s a heartening sight.

It’s also quite a contrast with the disheartening state of play in Malaysia. Lynch didn’t mention Najib by name in her tantalizing Wednesday press conference (he’s a key U.S. ally in Asia). But it doesn’t take much imagination to connect the dots between Washington’s “Malaysian official 1” and the prime minister’s office (there’s already a #MalaysianOfficial1 hashtag on Twitter). By linking Najib to vast sums of money allegedly siphoned from state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., U.S. prosecutors ensured that Malaysia’s annus horribilis just got worse. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Crisis of Political Islam

By YAROSLAV TROFIMOV
Wall Street Journal
July 22, 2016

First Egypt and now Turkey show the perils of ideological religious parties (and strongman rule), but other Muslim countries are faring better with democracy

In 1999, a former mayor of Istanbul named Recep Tayyip Erdogan was imprisoned and banned from politics for life for reciting a poem. “Our minarets are our bayonets, our domes are our helmets, our mosques are our barracks,” the incriminating lines went. “My reference is Islam. If I am not able to speak of this, what is the use of living?”

The ban on Mr. Erdogan didn’t stick. Now Turkey’s president (and prime minister for 11 years before that), he is presiding over a nationwide purge of suspected enemies after the failure last week of a military coup against his government.

For decades, in much of the Middle East, Islamist politicians like Mr. Erdogan weren’t able to speak out — and, when they did, they frequently faced a prison cell or a hangman’s noose. From Algeria to Egypt to Turkey, the apparatus of the state repeatedly unleashed repression — of varying degrees of harshness — to marginalize political Islam, crushing democratic freedoms while offering the excuse of preserving secular values. The West, preferring the autocratic devils it knew over the Islamists it didn’t, often concurred.

In response, many of the Islamist movements that sprang up under the influence of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — groups that include Mr. Erdogan’s party — have gradually embraced the language of pluralism and the idea of democratic politics and elections. Crucially, however, these modern Islamists have often viewed democracy not as a value in itself but merely as a tactic to bring about a “true” Islamic order. To them, the voting booth was simply the most feasible way to dismantle the postcolonial, secular systems that, in the eyes of their followers, had failed to bring justice or development to ordinary Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »

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Decision Time on Malaysia’s 1MDB

Wall Street Journal
OPINION REVIEW & OUTLOOK
July 21, 2016

Losses of billions of dollars will catch up with Najib Razak.

U.S. prosecutors on Wednesday linked Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to hundreds of millions of dollars they believe were stolen from the Malaysian state-owned investment fund 1MDB. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit to freeze more than $1 billion in assets from people connected to Mr. Najib, including his stepson Riza Aziz. The individuals named in the complaint allegedly used the money to buy real estate, artworks and other baubles of the jet set.

Mr. Najib denies all wrongdoing and spokesmen have dismissed critics as part of a conspiracy to overthrow an elected leader. Mr. Najib has previously said that $681 million that ended up in his personal accounts was a legal political donation from Saudi Arabia that was later mostly returned.

But Mr. Najib can’t escape responsibility if it is proved that national wealth held by 1MDB disappeared on his watch. He launched 1MDB in 2009, served as chairman of the advisory board, and oversaw it as Prime Minister and, concurrently, Finance Minister. The evidence of fraud connected to 1MDB from investigations in the U.S., Singapore, Switzerland and at least four other countries is damning. The U.S. Justice Department put the losses at $3.5 billion on Wednesday. The Swiss Attorney General’s office said earlier this year it suspects $4 billion was misappropriated. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Leader Under Pressure From U.S. Lawsuit Over 1MDB Assets

By JAKE MAXWELL WATTS in Singapore and YANTOULTRA NGUI and CELINE FERNANDEZ in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Wall Street Journal
July 21, 2016

Prime Minister Najib Razak faced fresh calls to resign Thursday after the U.S. moved to seize more than $1 billion of assets allegedly siphoned from a development fund he founded. But with elections likely years away, Malaysia’s well-entrenched leader looked set to easily weather the latest storm.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a civil lawsuit Wednesday seeking to seize assets it said were part of “an international conspiracy to launder money’’ misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB.

Authorities in Singapore, Malaysia’s wealthy neighbor, followed on Thursday by saying they had seized bank accounts and placed restrictions on property transactions worth a combined 240 million Singapore dollars (US$178 million) as part of their own probe into 1MDB.

A request for comment from Mr. Najib’s office went unanswered on Thursday. Earlier, his office said it would fully cooperate with any lawful investigation in line with international protocols. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia fiasco undercuts Goldman’s standards push

By Una Galani
Breakingviews
Reuters

July 22, 2016

Malaysia’s sovereign fund scandal has exposed shortcomings in Goldman Sachs’ post-crisis overhaul of its business practices. Five years ago, the Wall Street firm led by Lloyd Blankfein went to great lengths to assure regulators, investors and clients that it was tightening up standards. But its dealings with the now disgraced 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) cast doubt on the depth of Goldman’s changes.

An attempt by the U.S. Department of Justice to seize assets bought with some of the $3.5 billion it says was stolen from 1MDB offer the clearest account yet of the bank’s deep relationship with the Malaysian fund. Though Goldman has not been accused of any wrongdoing, its name appears frequently in lawsuits that detail a complex web of fraudulent transactions over several years.

Back in 2009, Goldman helped set up the fund which counted Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as its top advisor. An excerpt of an email suggests that, from the very start, Goldman executives were concerned about the issue of transparency at the new fund and its reliance on borrowed money. By the time the bank started raising money for 1MDB in earnest three years later, corrupt officials had already sucked around $1 billion from the fund, the legal documents show.

Nevertheless, between 2012 and 2013 Goldman helped 1MDB raise $6.5 billion by issuing three bonds. The Justice Department suggests that around 40 percent of that money was siphoned off, and indicates that $681 million ultimately found its way into Najib’s personal bank account, though the prime minister is not directly named. Read the rest of this entry »

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Justice Dept. Rejects Account of How Malaysia’s Leader Acquired Millions

By RICHARD C. PADDOCK
New York Times
JULY 22, 2016

BANGKOK — A United States Justice Department complaint filed in federal court this week directly contradicts repeated assertions by the Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, about the origins and purpose of hundreds of millions of dollars that ended up in his personal bank accounts.

While Mr. Najib and other Malaysian officials have insisted that the money was a gift from an unidentified Saudi donor, the Justice Department said that it was stolen from a Malaysian government investment fund that Mr. Najib oversaw. Mr. Najib has said he never received any money from the fund.

The court filing, one of several complaints filed Wednesday in a federal money-laundering investigation, provides the first official public documentation of transactions that challenge Mr. Najib’s version of events in a scandal that has battered his government for the past year.

The revelations could undermine his credibility and give new ammunition to a movement to force him from office. However, he maintains firm control over his governing party and has successfully stifled opposition with the firing of critics from party posts, the closing of online news outlets and the criminal prosecution of social media detractors and political opponents. Read the rest of this entry »

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The 136-page US DOJ suit to recover more than US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets under US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative 2010 fully vindicated my April comments that PAC Report on 1MDB was only “tip of the iceberg”

The 136-page United States Department of Justice (DO)’s legal suit to recover more than US$1 billion 1MDB-linked assets under the US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative 2010 has fully vindicated my April comments that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report on 1MDB scandal dealt only the “tip of the iceberg”.

In my media statement on April 8, 2016, the day after the PAC Report was tabled in Parliament without the Auditor-General’s Report on 1MDB although it was an integral part of the PAC Report and proceedings, I said the PAC Report had not laid to rest or rebut in any manner international perceptions that Malaysia had become one of the world’s top nations in global corruption.

I said: “In fact, the PAC report will only confirm these international perceptions and doubts, which is why the 1MDB scandal is the subject of separate investigations by half a dozen countries, including the subject of the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and Department of Justice (DOJ) under the US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative, and none of them will halt investigations because of the PAC Report.”

I said at the time that what was important was the “next step” – “how to probe further than just the ‘tip of of the iceberg’ – a job which other countries of the world will do if Malaysians themselves are not up to it to get to the bottom of the truth of the 1MDB scandal, which will be to the eternal shame of Malaysia!”

My brutal forecast has come to pass. Read the rest of this entry »

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I am not “Malaysian Official 1”. Will Najib deny that he is “Malaysia Official 1”?

Although never intended to be taken seriously, the speculation sparked by the US Department of Justice’s (DOJ) legal suit to seize more than US$1 billion assets stolen from 1MDB about the identity of the kingpin of the 1MDB scandal, described merely as “Malaysian Official 1”, included the lighted-hearted one as to whether I could be “Malaysian Official 1”.

But this is a very serious matter, involving the country’s honour and international reputation.

Let me clearly and formally declare that I am not the “Malaysian Official 1.”

Will the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak similarly state his position – to formally deny it or confirm whether he is referred to as “Malaysian Official 1” and if the latter, what he proposes to do about the DOJ action. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call for Special Parliament meeting before National Day to establish an International Royal Commission of Inquiry into Najib’s RM55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” mega scandals to regain world respect for Malaysia as country which upholds rule of law and serious about national integrity

The thirty minutes of the live streaming of the press conference of the United States Attorney-General Loretta E. Lynch, accompanied by other top US officials including Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Eileen M. Decker of the Central District of California, FBI Deputy Director Andrew G. McCabe and others at Malaysian time 11.30 pm last night on the invocation of the US Kleptocracy Assets Recovery Initiative to recover more than $1 billion obtained from corruption involving the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund, 1MDB, had been the most shameful, humiliating and mortifying experience for me as a Malaysian, and I believe for all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region, who love Malaysia and wants Malaysia to be respected all over the world.

Imagine, Malaysians who have dignity and pride about their nation, having to listen the US Attorney-General Lynch telling the whole world:

“The Department of Justice will not allow the American financial system to be used as a conduit for corruption.

“With this action, we are seeking to forfeit and recover funds that were intended to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people. Instead, they were stolen, laundered through American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates. Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes. ”

Or the US Assistant Attorney-General Caldwell who said:

“According to the allegations in the complaints, this is a case where life imitated art.The associates of these corrupt 1MDB officials are alleged to have used some of the illicit proceeds of their fraud scheme to fund the production of The Wolf of Wall Street, a movie about a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven. But whether corrupt officials try to hide stolen assets across international borders – or behind the silver screen – the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that there is no safe haven.”

Or US Attorney Decker who said: “Stolen money that is subsequently used to purchase interests in music companies, artwork or high-end real estate is subject to forfeiture under U.S. law. … All of us are committed to sending a message that we will not allow the United States to become a playground for the corrupt, a platform for money laundering or a place to hide and invest stolen riches.”

Or the FBI Deputy Director McCabe who said: “The United States will not be a safe haven for assets stolen by corrupt foreign officials. Public corruption, no matter where it occurs, is a threat to a fair and competitive global economy. The FBI is committed to working with our foreign and domestic partners to identify and return these stolen assets to their legitimate owners, the Malaysian people.”

Or Richard Weber of the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) who said:

“Today’s announcement underscores the breadth of the alleged corruption and money laundering related to the 1MDB fund. We cannot allow the massive, brazen and blatant diversion of billions of dollars to be laundered through U.S. financial institutions without consequences.”

I believe many Malaysians share my shame and sorrow last night that the good name of the country, diligently built up generations of patriotic Malaysians in the past six decades, have been brought so low as to be equated with the most corrupt and the most heinous of global embezzlement, money-laundering and corruption, catapulting Malaysia to one of the top nations in the world in the league of global corruption. Read the rest of this entry »

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US moves to seize $1bn in Malaysia assets

David J Lynch in Washington
Financial Times
20.7.2016

Van Gogh paintings, Beverly Hills properties and the rights to profits from the hit movie The Wolf of Wall Street were among $1bn in assets US prosecutors moved to seize on Wednesday as part of a sprawling anti-money laundering investigation into Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund.

In one of the largest seizures in US history, federal law enforcement agents also appeared to link Najib Razak, Malaysia’s prime minister, to a web of corrupt officials receiving stolen funds.

The US justice department case represents the most detailed and sweeping allegations to be brought in the multinational probe into a global scheme to siphon more than $3.5bn from the Malaysian government fund, known as 1MDB.

It is also the first time Mr Najib has been officially tied to the scandal. Mr Najib is not identified by name in court documents but the description of a “Malaysian Official 1” matches his biography and job responsibilities. On several occasions, that official received funds misappropriated from 1MDB, prosecutors say. Mr Najib has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. Links Malaysian Prime Minister to Millions Stolen From Development Fund

By BRADLEY HOPE and TOM WRIGHT
Wall Street Journal
July 20, 2016

In 1MDB lawsuit, Justice Department trying to seize more than $1 billion in assets

U.S. prosecutors have linked the prime minister of Malaysia, a key American ally in Asia, to hundreds of millions of dollars allegedly siphoned from one of the country’s economic development funds, according to a civil lawsuit seeking the seizure of more than $1 billion of assets from other people connected to him.

The assets, purchased by the stepson of Prime Minister Najib Razak and other persons connected to the fund, include high-end real estate and hotel properties in New York City, Los Angeles and London, artwork by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, and a $35 million jet. They also include rights to the 2013 film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” the civil-forfeiture complaints say.

Mr. Najib isn’t named in the filings, which were made public Wednesday, and he isn’t directly accused by U.S. prosecutors of any wrongdoing. But there are 32 references in the complaint to “Malaysian Official 1,” who allegedly received hundreds of millions of dollars in funds siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Bhd. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. Targets $1 Billion in Assets in Malaysian Embezzlement Case

By LOUISE STORY
New York Times
JULY 20, 2016

The United States government moved Wednesday to seize more than $1 billion in assets purchased with money that it believes was stolen from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund by people close to the country’s embattled prime minister.

Hidden in the United States in real estate, art and other luxury goods, the money was embezzled from the fund and moved around the world using secretive shell companies that masked its trail, the Justice Department said.

The $1 billion that prosecutors say was laundered in the United States is but a portion of the billions that international investigators suspect was siphoned off by high-level officials at the fund and their associates. The fund — called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB — is overseen by the prime minister, Najib Razak, and has become a focus of rising popular discontent with Mr. Najib’s government amid several investigations at home and abroad. Read the rest of this entry »

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US billion-dollar action by US DOJ to seize 1MDB-related assets proof that Malaysia is careening down the slope of failed and rogue state which must be stopped by all patriotic Malaysians

I am reminded of the first SSS Lge (Support, Sympathy, Solidarity with Lim Guan Eng) campaign 19 years ago when Guan Eng was disqualified as Member of Parliament and jailed for 18 months for defending the dignity and human rights of an under-aged Malay girl.

In that period, Guan Eng was first imprisoned and Anwar Ibrahim attended one of the SSS Lge ceramahs together with his wife Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and his daughter Nurul Izzah, before Anwar was himself imprisoned.

This time, Anwar is in prison and there are people who want Guan Eng to be jailed for one, two, three or even five years.

The common thread of the SSS Lge campaign and the SSS Lge 2.0 campaign spanning a period of some two decades is the need to change the system of governance to ensure that the national institutions in the country are independent, efficient and professional in upholding the values of justice and integrity.

What happened at the other of the world, which has a 12-hour time differential with Malaysia, illustrates the need for the change of our system of governance. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. Targets $1 Billion in Assets in Malaysian Embezzlement Case

By LOUISE STORY
New York Times
JULY 20, 2016

The United States government plans to move Wednesday to seize more than $1 billion in assets purchased with money that it believes was stolen from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund by people close to the country’s embattled prime minister.

Hidden in the United States in real estate, art and other luxury goods, the money was embezzled from the fund and moved around the world using secretive shell companies that masked its trail, a person familiar with the Justice Department plan said.

The $1 billion that prosecutors will allege was laundered in the United States is but a portion of the billions that international investigators suspect was siphoned off by high-level officials at the fund and their associates. The fund — called 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB — is overseen by the prime minister, Najib Razak, and has become a focus of rising popular discontent with Mr. Najib’s government amid several investigations at home and abroad.

The forfeiture complaint, to be issued by a unit known as the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, will be the largest such case brought by the Justice Department. The United States is among several governments, including Malaysia, Singapore and Switzerland, that have investigated the fund. Read the rest of this entry »

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Did the Cabinet this morning discuss the breaking news of the WSJ report that the US authorities are set to seize assets linked to 1MDB “in the largest asset seizure in US history” in the war against global corruption?

Did the Cabinet this morning discuss the breaking news at about noon Malaysian time of the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that the US authorities are set to seize assets linked to 1MDB “in the largest asset seizure in US history” in the war against global corruption?

This seizure, under the US Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, is expected to exceed the previous record of US$850 million in assets which the US authorities sought to seize from three telecom firms in an unrelated case.

Citing sources, WSJ said the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is expected to file civil lawsuits seeking to seize the assets as soon as Wednesday morning in the US.

It claimed the seizure will involve properties and other assets bought with “money allegedly misappropriated from the Malaysian fund.” Read the rest of this entry »

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QuickTake Q&A: Malaysia’s 1MDB Fund Spawns Worldwide Probes

Shamim Adam and Laurence Arnold
Bloomberg
July 20, 2016

Malaysia’s state-owned investment fund, 1MDB, was supposed to attract foreign investment. Instead, it has spurred criminal and regulatory investigations around the world that have cast an unflattering spotlight on financial deal-making, election spending and political patronage under Prime Minister Najib Razak. A Malaysian parliamentary committee identified at least $4.2 billion in irregular transactions.

1. What is 1MDB?

It’s a government investment company — full name, 1Malaysia Development Berhad — that took shape in 2009 under Najib, who went on to lead its advisory board. Its early initiatives included buying privately owned power plants and planning a new financial district in Kuala Lumpur. The fund proved better at borrowing — it accumulated $12 billion in debt — than at luring large-scale investment.

2. What’s the issue?

Investigators have been trying to trace whether money might have flowed through and around 1MDB and illegally into personal accounts. Some of the money is alleged to have ended up with Najib and his family. That includes $681 million that landed in the prime minister’s personal bank account, according to the Wall Street Journal. Najib has denied wrongdoing, and Malaysia’s attorney general said the $681 million was a donation from the Saudi Arabian royal family, much of which was returned. Another $700 million in 1MDB funds meant for a joint venture with a company known as PetroSaudi International was found to have landed in an unrelated offshore account. Read the rest of this entry »

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U.S. Readies Push to Seize Assets Tied to Malaysian Fund 1MDB

By BRADLEY HOPE
Wall Street Journal
July 20, 2016

Authorities are expected to file civil lawsuits as soon as Wednesday

Federal prosecutors are poised to launch one of the largest asset seizures in U.S. history as they step up their investigation into billions of dollars siphoned away from a Malaysian government investment fund, according to people familiar with the matter.

Authorities are expected to file civil lawsuits as soon as Wednesday morning seeking to seize assets, which are expected to include properties and other assets purchased with money allegedly misappropriated from the Malaysian fund, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that people linked to the fund have invested millions of dollars in real estate and businesses in the U.S.

Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s international corruption unit have also been conducting a wide-ranging criminal investigation into people and institutions connected with 1Malaysia Development Bhd., known as 1MDB, a sovereign-wealth fund set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to drive the country’s economy. Read the rest of this entry »

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