White House Visit Linked to Malaysian 1MDB Malaysian Fund

By Claire Ann Austria

Oct 15, 2016 06:00 AM EDT

Malaysia is facing a government-fund scandal and it is said to be one of the world's biggest alleged white-collar crimes, has been connected to a Hollywood studio, high-end U.S. real estate and this time, with the White House.

Federal investigators are looking into whether money improperly obtained from the Malaysian fund was paid to a businessman who later arranged an Oval Office visit for relatives of the Malaysian prime minister, according to people familiar with the probe.

The businessman is Frank White Jr., an entrepreneur who helped start an investment firm called DuSable Capital Management LLC, along with partners including a rap star. Mr. White has also raised funds for President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

Additionally, 1MDB paid $69 million to buy a DuSable unit out of a deal they had agreed on to build solar-power plants, the firms said last year.

The investigation of the payments is part of the wider inquiry into 1MDB, a fund that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak set up in 2009 to spur development. Investigators in several countries believe up to $6 billion was improperly diverted from the fund. Malaysia's attorney general cleared Mr. Najib of wrongdoing, and 1MDB has denied wrongdoing. Both have pledged to cooperate with investigators. Mr. White and DuSable have provided information to investigators, said a person familiar with their position. The investigation hasn't resulted in any allegations of wrongdoing against Mr. White or DuSable.

U.S.-Malaysian ties have warmed in recent years, with Mr. Obama in 2014 making the first visit to Malaysia by a U.S. president in over 50 years. The Justice Department said in its July lawsuits the film was partly funded by money stolen from 1MDB, an allegation The Wall Street Journal had reported in April. Mr. Aziz has denied wrongdoing and his production company said it believed the money came from a legitimate partner. Mr. White's spokesman said he had no dealings with Mr. Aziz. There is no indication Mr. Obama or the White House were aware of any 1MDB links with Mr. White, or of any issue with the movie's financing.

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