US seeks to seize $1 bil­lion as­sets tied to 1MDB Bank

The Pak Banker - - MARKETS/SPORTS -

US fed­eral prose­cu­tors plan to seek per­mis­sion as early as Wed­nes­day to seize more than $1 bil­lion in as­sets pur­chased with money al­legedly mis­ap­pro­pri­ated from a Malaysian state in­vest­ment com­pany, me­dia re­ported.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment is lead­ing the po­ten­tial as­set seizure that it will al­lege was laun­dered in the U.S., and which would be its largest such case, the pa­per said, cit­ing an uniden­ti­fied per­son fa­mil­iar with the plan. Money said to have been em­bez­zled from 1Malaysia De­vel­op­ment Bhd. was hid­den in the U.S. in real es­tate, art and other lux­ury goods, the New York Times said.

1MDB, whose ad­vi­sory board was headed by Malaysian Prime Min­is­ter Na­jib Razak un­til it was dis­solved re­cently, is em­broiled in mul­ti­ple global probes re­lated to al­le­ga­tions of money laun­der­ing and em­bez­zle­ment. Na­jib's fam­ily has been en­tan­gled in var­i­ous al­leged links to 1MDB funds, along­side a sep­a­rate dona­tion scan­dal that has caused more than a year of po­lit­i­cal ten­sions in Malaysia.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment's Klep­toc­racy As­set Recovery Ini­tia­tive unit will name Na­jib's step­son Riza Aziz, Malaysian fi­nancier Jho Low and Kha­dem Al Qubaisi, for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Abu Dhabi's In­ter­na­tional Petroleum In­vest­ment Co. in its court fil­ing, the pa­per said. The depart­ment's pub­lic af­fairs of­fice couldn't be reached by phone out­side U.S. of­fice hours.

Rel­a­tives or as­so­ciates of Na­jib have in­vested mil­lions of dol­lars in real es­tate and art in the U.S., the New York Times pre­vi­ously re­ported.

It isn't clear what as­sets will be con­fis­cated but it will likely in­clude prop­er­ties, the Wall Street Jour­nal said sep­a­rately in a re­port on Wed­nes­day. 1MDB didn't re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment, while Na­jib's press sec­re­tary couldn't im­me­di­ately pro­vide a re­sponse. 1MDB and Na­jib have con­sis­tently de­nied wrong­do­ing.

Ef­forts to reach Low for com­ment via his Hong Kong­based com­pany Jyn­wel Cap­i­tal were un­suc­cess­ful. Low has also pre­vi­ously de­nied wrong­do­ing.

James Bates, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Riza's film pro­duc­tion com­pany Red Gran­ite Pic­tures in Los An­ge­les, said he couldn't im­me­di­ately com­ment on the WSJ re­port, and Al Qubaisi didn't re­spond to calls to his mo­bile phone. WSJ didn't say if it con­tacted any of the par­ties, in­clud­ing U.S. au­thor­i­ties for com­ment. The New York Times said it couldn't im­me­di­ately get a com­ment from Riza, Low or Al-Qubaisi.

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