Malaysia aiming to locate $4.3bn linked to 1MDB scandal

Malaysia aiming to locate $4.3 billion linked to 1MDB corruption scandal
2 min read
05 November, 2019
Malaysia's anti-corruption chief has said that five countries are working with Malaysia to locate more than $4bn in funds allegedly stolen from a state wealth fund.
Former PM Najib Razak is accused of siphoning money from a state wealth fund [Anadolu]
Malaysia's government is seeking to locate at least 18 billion ringgit ($4.34 billion) worth of assets believed to have been purchased with funds siphoned from a sovereign wealth fund.

The Southeast Asian state is working with at least five nations to recover the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, the country's anti-corruption chief said on Tuesday.

"This what we're working on... to locate, investigate and research where these properties are," Latheefa Koya, the head of Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Commission, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"As you know it's not just a one-off transaction, it's multiple transactions, so we need to work together with the countries to help us."

Huge sums were stolen from the 1MDB state fund in a fraud allegedly involving former prime minister Najib Razak and his cronies, and spent on everything from high-end real estate to a luxury super-yacht.

On Saturday, reports emerged that Malaysia had rejected a compensation offer of "less than $2 billion" from US banking giant Goldman Sachs for the role of its subsidiaries in the scandal.

Goldman's role has been under scrutiny as it helped arrange bond issues worth billions for 1MDB, with Malaysia claiming large amounts were misappropriated in the process and seeking $7.5 billion in redress.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who reopened an investigation into the scandal after seizing power last year, told The Financial Times his government spurned a much smaller offer by the Wall Street titan. 

"Goldman Sachs has offered something like less than $2 billion," he said in a Friday interview with the newspaper.

"We are not satisfied with that amount so we are still talking to them... If they respond reasonably we might not insist on getting that $7.5 billion," he added, without providing further details.

Last year, Malaysia filed charges against three units of the bank and two ex-employees over the scandal. 

Additional charges were filed in August against 17 current and former executives of the three Goldman subsidiaries, which the Wall Street titan later said were "misdirected".

The news comes days after US officials said that Low Taek Jho, a central figure in the scandal, agreed to forfeit $700 million in assets as part of efforts to recover the stolen money. 

Mahathir said this week Malaysia would ask the US to handover what it has recovered from Low, in what is the largest ever US civil forfeiture. 

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