The 1MDB loot continues to pile up

The already extensive list is now joined by a vintage poster along with several luxury watches

by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

A COLLECTION of posters and luxury watches has been added to the total US$322 million (RM1.3 billion) worth of 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s (1MDB) assets that have been recovered by the authorities to date.

The already extensive list is now joined by a vintage “King Kong” poster and a Jean-Micheal Basquiat drawing, along with several luxury watches collectively worth US$14 million that were surrendered by The Wolf of Wall Street director Joey McFarland on Tuesday.

McFarland said he received the items as gifts from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low), according to a filing in Los Angeles Federal Court on Monday.

The collection of gifts included posters of Fritz Lang’s 1931 German film M, the 1956 science fiction classic Forbidden Planet and Cool Hand Luke from 1967.

McFarland co-founded Red Granite Pictures alongside the former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz. Red Granite hit the limelight for its movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, that featured actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

As of May, Malaysia recovered US$57 million which was forfeited from Red Granite Pictures under a US$60 million settlement recorded in the Court of California.

According to the complaint, Riza spent at least US$5.4 million on collectible movie posters, which he used to decorate his condominium in New York. Riza also gave a number of the posters to McFarland, DiCaprio and film director Martin, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

US$3 million was deducted to reimburse the DoJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for costs incurred to investigate, seize, litigate and secure a settlement with the film production company.

Among the assets is the superyacht Equanimity, which was placed for auction from Oct 29 through Nov 28, 2018, by investigators, while pending a US$1 million deposit. The superyacht, reported to have been purchased by Jho Low using money that was stolen from the sovereign fund, was later sold to the Genting Group for US$126 million.

Another property involved in the fund was Park Lane Hotel, Manhattan, which was a property that Jho Low obtained stakes in and later dropped claims in a US forfeiture lawsuit in November.

Jho Low’s approximate interest in the hotel totalled to US$139 million, an amount that is expected to be returned by the DoJ. A sum of S$50 million (RM152.3 million) from Singapore was also reported to be repatriated, while some S$15 million had been credited to the fund’s recovery account.

Malaysia is currently working with at least six countries, including the US, Switzerland and Singapore, to recover about US$4.5 billion worth of assets that were diverted from the fund.

According to public files, 1MDB has nearly US$11.73 billion in debt, and part of the debt is from the US$3 billion state-guaranteed bond issue led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc, which made as much as US$300 million in fees from the deal.

Meanwhile, a key prosecution witness had elaborated on her role in the misappropriation of RM42 million from the fund’s subsidiary, SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Former Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M) CEO Ung Su Ling testified at the High Court on Tuesday that the money would be channelled into Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, alongside the instructions given to her by Najib’s former private secretary, the late Datuk Azlin Alias.

She said she was informed regarding the flow three months in advance, and Azlin told her about the transfers and asked her to relay instructions for the cash to be moved to two private bank accounts.

In addition, the foundation she previously led was funded by 1MDB, Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) and the Genting Group. According to her, 1MDB contributed RM210 million, Genting Group RM230 million and Petronas RM3 million to the foundation.

Ung also said YR1M was established to raise the quality of life among the unfortunates, improve students’ education quality in rural areas and instil positive values in youth via sports participation.

She testified to the contributions of the three entities during cross-examination by lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah on the former premiere’s 38th trial day in relation to the RM42 million misappropriation from SRC International’s funds.

The company was established by 1MDB on Jan 7, 2011, which was said to supply coal for long-term needs, according to its business plan for the period of 2011 to 2015.