US Returns Additional $156 Million to Malaysia From Stolen 1MDB State Fund

By Jace Dela Cruz

Jun 14, 2024 02:49 AM EDT

The United States (US) has returned $156 million to Malaysia, which was recovered from assets seized in investigations into a global corruption scheme involving the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) state fund.

It was reportedly the fourth tranche of assets returned to Malaysia following a probe by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), bringing the total amount to around $1.4 billion.

Money Cash Dollars

(Photo : Barta IV from Pixabay)

US Returns $1.4 Billion Embezzled Funds to Malaysia

In a statement on Thursday, the DOJ said the 1MDB fund, initially established to boost Malaysia's economic development through global partnerships and foreign investments, was instead used by 1MDB high-level officials and their associates for personal enrichment.

Court documents revealed that from 2009 to 2015, more than $4.5 billion was laundered through major financial institutions worldwide, including in the US, Singapore, Switzerland, and Luxembourg.

Former Malaysia prime minister Najib Razak, who established 1MDB, was jailed in 2022 for graft linked to a former unit of the state fund. The alleged mastermind of the 1MDB corruption scandal, Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, was indicted in 2018 but has remained at large until now.

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Where Did the Misappropriated Funds Go?

The misappropriated funds were reportedly used to purchase luxury properties, a superyacht, and art pieces by renowned artists like Monet and Van Gogh.

Some funds were also allegedly invested in a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, a movie production company that produced "The Wolf of Wall Street," and other high-profile ventures.

Last month, Malaysia sought extra compensation from the US after US authorities formally ended their criminal case with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for its role in the 1MDB scandal.

Since 2016, the Justice Department has filed 41 civil forfeiture actions and seized over $1.7 billion in stolen assets linked to 1MDB. The department said it will continue to litigate actions against additional assets allegedly linked to the scheme.

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