U.S. Repatriates $300 Million to Malaysia in Proceeds of Funds Misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad

The Department of Justice announced today that it has repa­tri­at­ed to Malaysia approx­i­mate­ly $300 mil­lion (RM 1.292 bil­lion) in addi­tion­al funds mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia’s invest­ment devel­op­ment fund, and laun­dered through finan­cial insti­tu­tions in sev­er­al juris­dic­tions, includ­ing the United States, Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg. 

Combined with oth­er funds that the depart­ment pre­vi­ous­ly returned to Malaysia in May 2019, the United States has returned or assist­ed Malaysia in recov­er­ing over $600 mil­lion (RM 2.6 bil­lion) of funds mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed from 1MDB.  The department’s efforts to recov­er funds mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed from 1MDB are continuing. 

In 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California entered judg­ments for­feit­ing more than $700 mil­lion in assets acquired by Low Taek Jho, aka Jho Low, and his fam­i­ly locat­ed in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.  To date, the United States has recov­ered or assist­ed in the recov­ery of more than $1 bil­lion in assets asso­ci­at­ed with the 1MDB inter­na­tion­al mon­ey laun­der­ing and bribery scheme.  This rep­re­sents the largest recov­ery to date under the department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and the largest civ­il for­fei­ture ever con­clud­ed by the Justice Department. 

We are pleased to make this lat­est repa­tri­a­tion ofan addi­tion­al $300 mil­lion in stolen 1MDB funds,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “The pay­ment reflects the United States’ con­tin­u­ing com­mit­ment to the Malaysian peo­ple to hunt down, seize, for­feit, and return assets that were acquired in con­nec­tion with this brazen scheme.”

The repa­tri­a­tion of these stolen funds to the cit­i­zens of Malaysia is the result of the tire­less efforts of pros­e­cu­tors and fed­er­al agents to pre­vent for­eign klep­to­crats and their asso­ciates from using the United States as a play­ground where they can enjoy the fruits of their pil­fered wealth,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna of the Central District of California.  “The amount of mon­ey stolen from the peo­ple of Malaysia is stag­ger­ing, and we have been relent­less in recov­er­ing assets that always should have been used for their benefit.”

The FBI’s International Corruption Squads are ded­i­cat­ed to pro­tect­ing the United States from crim­i­nals attempt­ing to ben­e­fit from our econ­o­my using their illic­it, ill-got­ten funds,” said Assistant Director Calvin Shivers of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division.  “The repa­tri­a­tion announced today is a direct result of an FBI inter­na­tion­al cor­rup­tion inves­ti­ga­tion, con­clu­sive­ly demon­strat­ing that crim­i­nals will not be allowed to pros­per in the United States.  This mon­ey is now being returned to its right­ful place – the coun­try and peo­ple of Malaysia.” 

This extra­or­di­nary sum of mon­ey is going back to the peo­ple of Malaysia where it belongs and where it can final­ly be used for its orig­i­nal intend­ed purpose—to bet­ter the lives of every­day Malaysians,” said Chief Don Fort of IRS-Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI).  “Mr. Low attempt­ed to laun­der these assets through mul­ti­ple inter­na­tion­al juris­dic­tions and a web of shell cor­po­ra­tions, but his greed final­ly caught up with him.  This case is a mod­el for inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tion in sig­nif­i­cant cross-bor­der mon­ey laun­der­ing investigations.”

According to the civ­il for­fei­ture com­plaints, from 2009 through 2015, more than $4.5 bil­lion in funds belong­ing to 1MDB were alleged­ly mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed by high-lev­el offi­cials of 1MDB and their asso­ciates, includ­ing Low, through a crim­i­nal con­spir­a­cy involv­ing inter­na­tion­al mon­ey laun­der­ing and bribery.  1MDB was cre­at­ed by the gov­ern­ment of Malaysia to pro­mote eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment in Malaysia through glob­al part­ner­ships and for­eign direct invest­ment, and its funds were intend­ed to be used for improv­ing the well-being of the Malaysian peo­ple.   The assets sub­ject to the 2019 judg­ments include high-end real estate in Beverly Hills, New York and London; a lux­u­ry bou­tique hotel in Beverly Hills; and tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in busi­ness invest­ments that Low alleged­ly made with funds trace­able to mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ed 1MDB monies. 

The FBI’s International Corruption Squads in New York City and Los Angeles and the IRS-CI are inves­ti­gat­ing the case.  Deputy Chief Woo S. Lee and Trial Attorneys Barbara Levy, Joshua L. Sohn and Jonathan Baum of the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Kucera, Michael R. Sew Hoy and Steven R. Welk of the Central District of California are pros­e­cut­ing the case.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs is pro­vid­ing sub­stan­tial assistance.

The depart­ment also appre­ci­ates the sig­nif­i­cant assis­tance pro­vid­ed by the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney General’s Chambers of Singapore, the Singapore Police Force-Commercial Affairs Division, the Office of the Attorney General and the Federal Office of Justice of Switzerland, the judi­cial inves­ti­gat­ing author­i­ty of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Criminal Investigation Department of the Grand-Ducal Police of Luxembourg.

The Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative is led by a team of ded­i­cat­ed pros­e­cu­tors in the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, in part­ner­ship with fed­er­al law enforce­ment agen­cies, and often with U.S. Attorney’s Offices, to for­feit the pro­ceeds of for­eign offi­cial cor­rup­tion and, where appro­pri­ate, to use those recov­ered assets to ben­e­fit the peo­ple harmed by these acts of cor­rup­tion and abuse of office.  In 2015, the FBI formed International Corruption Squads across the coun­try to address nation­al and inter­na­tion­al impli­ca­tions of for­eign corruption. 

Individuals with infor­ma­tion about pos­si­ble pro­ceeds of for­eign cor­rup­tion locat­ed in or laun­dered through the U.S. should con­tact fed­er­al law enforce­ment or send an email to kleptocracy@usdoj.gov (link sends e‑mail) or https://tips.fbi.gov/.

A civ­il for­fei­ture com­plaint is mere­ly an alle­ga­tion that mon­ey or prop­er­ty was involved in or rep­re­sents the pro­ceeds of a crime.  These alle­ga­tions are not proven until a court awards judg­ment in favor of the United States.

Original source : USA Department of Justice