Malaysia receives US$57m in 1MDB asset recovery

07 May 2019 / 20:06 H.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is getting back more of the money lost in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal.

Attorney-General Tommy Thomas said the first tranche of US$57 million (RM236.4 million) has already been credited to the 1MDB asset recovery account by the US government.

“The sum was the money forfeited from Red Granite Pictures under a US$60 million (RM248.9 million) settlement recorded before the Court of California,“ Thomas said in a statement yesterday.

He said US$3 million (RM12.4 million) was deducted to reimburse the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for costs incurred for investigations, seizure, litigation and securing a settlement with Red Granite as well as for investigating, seizing and maintaining the superyacht Equanimity when it was in Indonesian waters.

The Equanimity, purchased for about RM1 billion by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, has been sold to Genting Bhd.

It is understood that the US$57 million is only part of what Thomas said was a “substantial” sum that the US government would be returning to Malaysia. The first instalment was funds recovered from the seizure of assets related to 1MDB under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative of the DOJ.

Red Granite Pictures is a US-based film production company linked to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz. It is most famous for producing the movie Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo Dicaprio.

The DOJ is also in the midst of remitting another US$139 million (RM576.6 million) that is proceeds from the sale of Low’s interest in Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan.

Thomas said the costs incurred by the DOJ and FBI in investigating, seizing, litigating and securing settlement for the Park Lane asset would be deducted from the settlement sum, and the balance was expected to be credited into the 1MDB asset recovery account soon.

“Malaysia has now recovered US$322 million (RM1.3 billion) of 1MDB assets since investigations began after the general elections in May last year,“ he said.

US ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lahkdhir said the return of the first tranche of money to Malaysia demonstrated US commitment to return these assets for the benefit of the people of Malaysia.

“This is an important symbol of cooperation between our two countries — a cooperation that demonstrates our shared commitment to good governance, combating official corruption and ensuring justice is served,“ she said in a statement yesterday.

Apart from the money that was coming back from the United States, another S$50 million (RM152.3 million) of funds also traceable to 1MDB will be repatriated from Singapore. A sum of S$15 million (RM45.7 million) has already been credited to the 1MDB asset recovery account between September last year and March this year, and the balance will be credited shortly.

Thomas said such recovery could not have been achieved without the assistance and excellent cooperation that the Malaysian authorities enjoyed with their counterparts in the United States and Singapore.

“The 1MDB asset recovery efforts across the globe are still ongoing, and Malaysia is optimistic of recovering further monies in the coming months,“ he said.

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