Malaysia seeks to recoup around $5 billion worth of state fund-linked assets

Malaysian authorities intensified efforts to recover funds which have been siphoned from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund at the center of the global corruption scandal.

According to an unnamed official cited by Reuters, the country wants to recoup around $5 billion worth of foreign assets linked to 1MDB. A state fund was set up in 2009 by Najib Razak, the then-prime minister who is now being investigated for money laundering.

Senior officials and associates of the fund embezzled around $4.5 billion from 1MDB sovereign wealth fund from 2009 to 2014, investigators from Malaysia and US believe. Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy commissioner Azam Baki told the media that the value of many of the assets grew, making the total closer to $5 billion.

“The amount is about $5 billion… in many countries, all related to 1MDB,” Azam said

On Friday, authorities filed civil forfeiture suits to seize 270 million ringgit ($65 million) disbursed from an account belonging to Najib. That’s according to MACC’s chief commissioner Latheefa Koya who said that suits were filed on 41 people, companies and entities, most of them linked to Najib’s party the United Malays National Organisation.

Latheefa said Malaysia has so far recovered about 919 million ringgit ($222 million) in 1MDB funds, including cash voluntarily returned by those under probe for receiving illegal proceeds.

The former prime minister is accused of embezzling public funds totaling hundreds of millions of dollars from 1MDB. Around $1 billion in 1MDB funds flowed into Najib’s bank accounts, investigators allege. He has been charged with 42 criminal offences in all, but denies any wrongdoing.

The scandal sparked widespread outrage in Malaysia and led to Najib’s ouster last year in a general election. He was arrested last year in June following his coalition’s electoral defeat. Police raided his home and found more than $273 million in cash and goods. Najib claims that these were “gifts.”

A trial which started in April involves a 1MDB subsidiary. Hearings in the main case will begin in August.

The scandal with the Malaysian state fund has been making headlines for years and is being investigated in at least six countries.

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