US to return US$200mil 1MDB funds

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 04 May 2019

This is what you need to know about 1MDB

SINGAPORE: The US authorities are preparing to return about US$200mil (RM826mil) of funds allegedly misappropriated from troubled state fund 1MDB to Malaysia, according to sources.

The amount includes about US$140mil (RM578mil) from the sale of a stake in New York’s Park Lane Hotel and some US$60mil (RM248mil) from a settlement paid by the producer of the Wolf of Wall Street movie, said sources privy to inside information.

They said the transfer could happen as soon as next week.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has reached out to countries from Switzerland to Singapore for help in tracking and recouping the US$4.5bil (RM18.6bil), believed to have been siphoned from 1MDB.

The scandal surrounding the state fund, set up to finance development projects, has ensnared people and institutions from Mala­y­sia’s former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak to Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Representatives of the US Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Malaysia pulled in US$126mil (RM520.8mil) last month from the sale of the superyacht Equanimity, once owned by Jho Low, the fugitive businessman who has been painted as the mastermind behind the scandal.

The boat is now named Tranquility.

That was the largest amount of money that the country has recovered related to 1MDB, after it received S$15.3mil (RM46.4mil) from Singapore last year.

Low has repeatedly denied the allegations against him.

Singaporean authorities are preparing to return about S$35mil (RM106mil) surrendered by former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng and his family in connection with the 1MDB scandal to Malaysia, said another source.

The US$140mil stake in the Park Lane Hotel, which sits on Central Park South, was sold in February after Low agreed to drop his claims on the property.

The US$60mil was paid by Red Granite Pictures Inc, co-founded by Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz, as part of a settlement with the Justice Department over claims that it financed the Wolf of Wall Street movie with funds misappropriated from 1MDB.

This week, the Justice Department said a set of diamond jewellery worth US$1.7mil (RM7mil) that Low gave to his mother, allegedly using money from 1MDB, will be returned to the US as part of a forfeiture lawsuit. — Bloomberg

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