UPDATE 1-Malaysia fines 80 people, companies in 1MDB case: anti-graft chiefReuters | Kuala Lumpur | Updated: 07-10-2019 09:17 IST | Created: 07-10-2019 09:11 IST
Malaysia has fined 80 individuals and entities for allegedly receiving money from state fund 1MDB, the country's anti-graft chief said on Monday.
Malaysian and U.S. investigators say about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), set up in 2009 by former Prime Minister Najib Razak. Najib, who lost a general election last year, is now facing dozens of graft and money laundering charges over allegations that he received about $1 billion in 1MDB funds. He has pleaded not guilty.
Latheefa Koya, the head of Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), told reporters the agency was aiming to recover 420 million ringgit ($100 million) from individuals and entities who had allegedly received funds laundered through accounts linked to Najib. "We have issued compound notices against all of these people and entities for the purpose of them to pay up the fine," Latheefa said, adding that they could be fined up to 2.5 times the amount received.
The individuals include Najib's brother Nazir Razak, the former chairman of Malaysia's second-largest bank, CIMB, and Shahrir Abdul Samad, former chairman of state palm oil agency Felda. Funds were also distributed to companies, political parties and organizations linked to Najib's coalition, a list provided by the MACC showed.
A spokeswoman for Nazir did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shahrir declined to comment. In 2015, Nazir went on a leave of absence after the Wall Street Journal reported that he received around $7 million from Najib and disbursed the funds to other politicians before elections in 2013.
An independent review into the money transfer concluded that Nazir did not misuse his position and there was no inappropriate use of the CIMB's resources, following which Nazir resumed his duties as chairman. He resigned last year after three decades at the bank. Nazir had received about 25.7 million ringgit in cheques, Latheefa said. She declined to confirm whether these were the same funds that Nazir had allegedly received in 2013.
After winning last year's election, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's administration has reopened 1MDB probes, charged dozens of high-ranked officials, and filed civil forfeiture actions in a bid to recover money linked to 1MDB. Since 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed forfeiture lawsuits on about $1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds, including a private jet, luxury real estate, and jewelry.
In May, the United States began returning to Malaysia some $200 million recovered from the sale of seized assets. ($1 = 4.1890 ringgit)