U.S. Justice Department seeks to recover more than $1 billion worth of assets linked to a conspiracy to launder funds taken from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) fund. Bobbi Rebell reports.
The U.S. Justice Department has filed civil lawsuits to seize assets they allege were stolen from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB. And, while the Prime Minister Najib Razak is not named, details in the lawsuits implicate him. Najib has not commented on the case and has consistently denied any wrongdoing regarding previous investigations into his finances. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch: (SOUNDBITE) LORETTA E. LYNCH, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "Today, the Department of Justice filed a civil complaint seeking to forfeit and recover more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds stolen from 1 Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, a company wholly owned by the government of Malaysia." U.S. authorities are focused on assets in the U.S., including high-end real estate in New York and Los Angeles, and film company Red Granite Pictures, which produced movies such as "The Wolf of Wall Street." For example, the lawsuit says tens of millions of dollars in funds were diverted from 1MDB to be used to make that film. Julia Edwards covers the story for Reuters. (SOUNDBITE) JULIA EDWARDS, CRIMINAL JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT, REUTERS, (ENGLISH) SAYING: "All of this is, is just seizing assets. No one will be going to jail, no one will be extradited to the U.S. to try to face charges. It's simply... will have their assets seized. This is really to raise a red flag to the Malaysian government to say 'We're on to you. We understand that this fund is being used not being used in a proper way,' and anyone who is on business with any of these accounts, will now have their assets seized as well." 1MDB, which Najib founded in 2009 shortly after he came to office, is being investigated for money-laundering in at least six countries, including the United States, Singapore, and Switzerland.