In a statement released by the US Justice Department yesterday, the American government announced that they seek to seize assets linked to Malaysian fund 1MDB in the US, including properties, artworks as well as the rights to the movie Wolf of Wall Street.
The department alleges the funds were “misappropriated” and “treated as a personal bank account”. The statement did not name any individuals, but did mentioned that the funds were used to finance lavish lifestyles of “multiple individuals including public officials”.
While opposition parties accused Prime Minister Najib Razak as the individual as the mastermind behind the scandal, he has denied any wrongdoing in the past, and investigations set up by Malaysian officials concluded that he was innocent.
The funds were said to be used to buy jewellery, art and luxury properties; pay gambling expenses; and hire musicians and celebrities to attend parties. There was also an allegation that said the money were used to fund the award-winning film The Wolf of Wall Street, produced by a company co-owned by Riza Aziz, the stepson of Najib.
1MDB is meant to be a government-owned fund set up in 2009 to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub, but it missed debt payments in 2015. It had since been the topic of major discussion globally and locally, over allegations of mass corruption.
The court papers, filed in Los Angeles, allege that money was laundered through accounts in the US. If successful the US justice department would seize assets, including property in the US, UK and Switzerland.
A spokesperson for the prime minister said the government would “fully co-operate with any lawful investigation of Malaysian companies or citizens in accordance with international protocols”, according to an article by BBC.
“As the prime minister has always maintained, if any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception.”