Recovery of 1MDB funds a promising start

It demonstrates the commitment to good governance, combating corruption and ensuring that justice is served

By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN

It has been a promising week for the Pakatan Harapan government, whose attempt to recover billions siphoned from state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) has led to the return of RM1.3 billion worth of 1MDB assets.

This includes the sale of luxury superyacht Equanimity last month for US$126 million (RM514 million), and the recent recovery of millions of dollars from the US government.

Yesterday, Attorney General Tommy Thomas announced that the US authorities have returned the first instalment of funds recovered from asset seizures related to 1MDB, under the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

The first tranche of returned funds amounting to US$57.04 million was credited into the 1MDB asset recovery account, a segregated trust account created solely for recovered 1MDB funds, he said in a statement.

Thomas also said the sum was forfeited from Red Granite Pictures, a US-based film production company co-founded by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz, which arose from a US$60 million settlement recorded before the Court of California.

“A deduction of some US$3 million was made to reimburse costs incurred by the DoJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in investigating, seizing, litigating and securing settlement for the Red Granite funds.

“Also included in this deduction were the costs incurred by the DoJ and FBI in investigating, seizing and maintaining the Equanimity when she (it) was held in Indonesian waters before arriving in our waters,” he added.

Thomas said the DoJ was also in the process of remitting a further sum of US$139 million from the sale of Jho Low’s (Low Taek Jho) interest in Park Lane Hotel, in Manhattan, New York City.

“All costs incurred by the DoJ and FBI in investigating, seizing, litigating and securing settlement for the Park Lane asset will be deducted from this settlement sum, and the balance is expected to be credited into the 1MDB asset recovery account soon,” he said.

The Singapore Courts have also ordered the repatriation of S$50 million (RM152.2 million) of funds traceable to 1MDB.

According to Thomas, S$15 million was credited into the 1MDB asset recovery account between September 2018 and March this year, with the balance S$35 million expected to be credited soon.

“Such recovery could not be achieved without the assistance and excellent cooperation that the Malaysian authorities enjoy with our counterparts in the US and Singapore.

“We express our gratitude to them. 1MDB asset recovery efforts across the globe are still ongoing, and Malaysia is optimistic of recovering further monies in the coming months,” he added.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdir had described the return of the assets as an “important symbol of cooperation” between the two countries.

This demonstrates the commitment on both sides to good governance, combating corruption and ensuring that justice is served, she said in a statement.

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