US returns RM1.3bil of 1MDB money to Malaysia

WASHINGTON (AFP): The US Department of Justice (DoJ) says that it had sent US$300mil (RM1.3bil) in funds stolen in the 1MDB corruption scandal to the Malaysian government that had been laundered through the global financial system.

Combined with other funds handed over nearly one year ago, DoJ said it has now returned or helped Malaysia recover more than US$1bil (RM4.33bil) in funds and assets lost in the scam.

"The repatriation of these stolen funds to the citizens of Malaysia is the result of the tireless efforts of prosecutors and federal agents to prevent foreign kleptocrats and their associates from using the United States as a playground where they can enjoy the fruits of their pilfered wealth," said US Attorney Nick Hanna in a statement.

"The amount of money stolen from the people of Malaysia is staggering, and we have been relentless in recovering assets that always should have been used for their benefit."

The money was a part of the more than US$4.5bil that (RM19.47bil) US investigators say was looted from the state-owned investment firm, with alleged help from ex-prime minister Najib Razak and his inner circle.

The US says that from 2009 to 2015, high-level officials of 1MDB and businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, siphoned off the billions originally meant to fund state investments.

Low used a lot of the money to buy luxurious homes and top-level art and invest in Hollywood movies, including the Martin Scorsese hit Wolf of Wall Street.

DoJ seized most of Low's assets and has been slowly liquidating them for return to Malaysia. – AFP

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