PETALING JAYA: The US government has returned funds of more than US$57mil (RM236.5mil) to Malaysia, the first instalment of funds recovered from asset seizures related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), says the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC).
Attorney General Tommy Thomas said this was done under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative of the US Department of Justice (DOJ) with the sum transferred into the 1MDB asset recovery account, a segregated trust account, opened specifically for this purpose.
Thomas said this sum was forfeited from Red Granite Pictures, a US-based film production company linked to former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his stepson, Riza Aziz.
Thomas said this arose from a US$60mil (RM248.9mil) settlement recorded before the Court of California, with a deduction of about US$3mil made to reimburse costs incurred by the Department of Justice (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 superyacht Equanimity for nine months, added Thomas.
Once owned by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, or better known as Jho Low, it was reported that Equanimity was bought for US$250mil (RM1.42bil) using funds linked to 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Ship-tracking website Marine Traffic said Equanimity has been renamed the Tranquility.
He said that the DOJ is in the process of remitting a further sum of US$139mil (RM576.5mil), which is the result of the sale of Jho Low's interest in Park Lane Hotel in Manhattan.
He added that 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.
Thomas said Malaysia has recovered US$322mil (RM1.3 billion) worth of 1MDB assets since investigations into 1MDB effectively began after the 14th General Election in May 2018.
He said that a separate sum of SG$50mil (RM152.2mil) of funds traceable to 1MDB has been ordered by the Singapore Courts to be repatriated, and that SG$15mil (RM45.7mil) was credited into 1MDB asset recovery account between September last year to March this year, with the balance of SG$35mil (RM106.6mil) to be credited shortly.
"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," said Thomas in a statement on Tuesday (May 7).
The DOJ had announced that out of the US$4.5bil (RM18.7bil) wrongfully diverted from 1MDB, the value of assets that the DOJ is seeking to forfeit through its numerous civil forfeiture complaints filed from 2016 to 2019 is estimated about US$1.7bil (RM7.1bil).
These assets include the luxury superyacht Tranquility, which was judicially sold by Malaysian Admiralty Court last month for US$126mil (RM522.6mil).