AG mulls both criminal and civil cases in 1MDB

We would require time to review the papers submitted by MACC, says Thomas

By AZREEN HANI / Pic By AFIF ABD HALIM

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has submitted to the attorney general (AG), investigation papers relating to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

AG Tommy Thomas said the papers were submitted yesterday and that he will now go through the papers before proceedings.

“We would require time to review the papers, but appreciate the urgency and sensitivity of our tasks,” Thomas said in a statement. Thomas said the chambers is considering both criminal and civil prosecutions in the 1MDB case and has set up two separate teams to look through the evidence.

“To ensure that the tasks are carried out effectively, I have formed a team to scrutinise the documents with the intention of launching criminal prosecution, if any, and another team to study matters from relevant legal proceedings,” he said in a statement.

“Officers in these two teams will comprise deputy public prosecutors and senior federal lawyers who are experienced. They will report on their findings directly to me.”

Following the general election last month, the MACC has zoomed in on one part of the 1MDB case involving its former subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.

The MACC has questioned both former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, in their investigation of SRC International.

The MACC is also looking for several people connected to the SRC International investigation — including businessman Low Taek Jho and Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil Nik Othman Arif Kamil.

The MACC is investigating the far-reaching and complex 1MDB case that has been described as one of the world’s biggest frauds spanning many countries.

Under the previous government the case stalled in Malaysia, but in many other countries including Singapore, there were successful prosecution and trials.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has also investigated 1MDB under money-laundering concerns and seized billions of ringgit worth of assets connected to the case.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the US has assured Malaysia that these assets will be monetised and returned to Malaysia.

Lim said US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdir has given her reassurance that these assets will be brought back as soon as possible.

“Meeting up with Lakhdhir, where we discussed matters of importance to the substantial American investments and corporations here. She reassured me that assets seized from 1MDB will be monetised and returned to Malaysia as early as possible,” Lim said in his Twitter account.

The DoJ estimated at least US$4.5 billion (RM17.95 billion) had been misappropriated from the sovereign wealth fund in what the agency called “the largest kleptocracy case” in the country’s history.

Last month, the DoJ said it will continue to pursue justice in its investigation into 1MDB and looks forward to working with the local authorities following the recent change of Malaysia’s government.

“The DoJ is committed to ensuring that the US and its financial system are not threatened by corrupt individuals and kleptocrats who seek to hide their ill-gotten wealth.

“Whenever possible, recovered assets will be used to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office,” the DoJ had said in a statement.

The 1MDB scandal is being investigated in no less than six countries.

Malaysia’s previous government has outright denied any wrongdoings related to the state-owned fund, despite numerous investigations abroad.

While the former government has denied any wrongdoing at the sovereign wealth fund, accounts have been frozen, a few banks closed, bankers jailed and assets ranging from a yacht to hotels and expensive paintings uncovered.

The DoJ filed several lawsuits in June last year to seize more than US$1.7 billion in assets purchased with money stolen from 1MDB.

It was reported the 1MDB-linked assets accounted for nearly half of some US$3.5 billion in total proceeds seized or restrained by the DoJ.

Money misappropriated from 1MDB had reportedly been used to purchase US$200 million worth of properties in Southern California and New York, US$130 million on artworks including US$3.2 million to buy a Picasso painting, a US$265 million yacht and a US$27.3 million pink diamond necklace.