Malaysia PM wants those in US lawsuit to clear names

Businessmen close to Razak accused of channelling funds from state wealth fund to buy assets in US

Malaysia PM wants those in US lawsuit to clear names

World Bulletin / News Desk

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak has called on Malaysian and Middle Eastern businessmen accused in an international lawsuit of siphoning public funds out of the country to clear their names as soon as possible.

Talking to reporters in administrative capital Putrajaya on Monday, Razak said that the government is taking seriously claims in a United States Department of Justice civil lawsuit that $1 billion in assets were bought with funds allegedly channeled from embattled state wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

1MDB was established by Razak i̇n 2009 to undertake key development projects in capital Kuala Lumpur and spur Malaysia's economic growth. Since then, however, it has accumulated debts of 50 billion​ ​​Ringgit ($12.8 billion).

"We are prepared to extend full cooperation to all quarters in the investigation. The government has nothing to hide," he said. 

"Let's not get carried away with the matter. Leave it to the judicial process for we believe that sooner or later the truth will prevail."

 Last week, the U.S. department filed a civil lawsuit seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets it said were linked to an "international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated" from 1MDB.

In a press statement, it described the case as the largest ever brought by the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

U.S. prosecutors said more than $3.5 billion in 1MDB funds were allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of the local state investment firm and their associates between 2009 and 2015, with the money laundered through "complex transactions and fraudulent shell companies" with bank accounts located in Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the U.S.

Prosecutors allege that the money was used to buy luxury properties in the U.S. and U.K., paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, a $35 million jet, to pay off gambling debts in Las Vegas, to invest in EMI Music and to fund the production of 2013 Hollywood movie The Wolf of Wall Street.

 Among those named in the lawsuit were the movie's co-producer and Razak's stepson Reza Aziz, a Malaysian businessman linked to Razak, Jho Low, and prominent Middle East businessmen Khadem Abdulla Al-Qubaisi and Mohammed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.

It is not the first time Razak's name has been mentioned in an alleged scandal involving 1MDB. 

​In July 2015, the Wall Street Journal and whistle blower site Sarawak Report released reports quoting documents, which they claimed to be from the ongoing 1MDB probe, claiming $700 million moved among 1MDB-linked government agencies, banks and entities before finally ending up in Razak’s personal accounts in five separate deposits.

The Attorney-General Chambers has since ruled that the funds were political donations to the Razak-led UMNO for the party to remain in power during the last general election and ruled out wrongdoing by Razak.​

Güncelleme Tarihi: 25 Temmuz 2016, 14:41