Wed, Nov 06, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Malaysia looking for further billions tied to state fund

Reuters, KUALA LUMPUR

Malaysia is working to locate at least US$4.3 billion in assets that have yet to be accounted for in a global money laundering probe into state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) , its anti-corruption head said yesterday.

US authorities have said that about US$4.5 billion was siphoned from the sovereign wealth fund in a scandal spanning several countries, but Malaysian officials have said that much more was stolen.

The US last week struck a deal to recover about US$700 million more from fugitive financier Low Taek Jho (劉特佐), better known as Jho Low, who has played a central role in the scandal. He had previously forfeited a US$126 million yacht and US$140 million in other assets.

However, about 18 billion ringgit (US$4.35 billion) in assets remain unidentified and the government has been working with at least five countries to recover the funds, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Chief Commissioner Latheefa Koya told reporters.

“This [is] what we’re working on... To locate, investigate and research where these properties are,” Latheefa said.

She declined to give further details on the assets sought or the countries involved, citing pending investigations.

At least six countries, including Singapore and Switzerland, are investigating alleged graft and money laundering at 1MDB, founded by former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.

Najib, who lost a general election last year, has since been charged with 42 criminal offenses related to losses at 1MDB and other state entities.

He has consistently denied wrongdoing and his lawyers have said that he was misled by high-ranking officials at the fund.

Malaysia has estimated that Low stole more than US$10 billion from 1MDB, Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas told the Nikkei Asian Review last month.

Low, who faces charges in Malaysia and the US over the scandal, has consistently denied wrongdoing. His whereabouts are unknown.

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