Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s meeting with US President Donald Trump in Washington on 12 September has ignited a firestorm of negative comments given the latest allegations that the former is the main beneficiary of the 1MDB corruption scandal.
According to a 251-page document from the US Department of Justice, many individuals including public officials and their associates conspired to steal about US$4.5 billion from Malaysian sovereign fund 1MDB between 2009 and 2014.
“The funds diverted from 1MDB were used for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators and their relatives and associates, including to purchase luxury real estate in the US and overseas, pay gambling expenses at Las Vegas casinos, acquire more than US$200 million in artwork, purchase lavish gifts for family members and associates, invest in a major New York property development project, and fund the production of major Hollywood films. 1MDB maintained no interest in these assets and saw no returns on these investments,” said the documents.
It claimed that the loss of billions in the fund could not have happened without the knowledge and consent of “Malaysian Official 1”, a person who played a central role in 1MDB who is believed to be Najib.
“Malaysian Official 1 had the authority to approve all appointments to, and removals from, 1MDB’s Board of Directors and 1MDB’s Senior Management Team. In addition, any financial commitments by 1MDB, including investments, required his approval.”
More importantly, the latest court documents alleged that Malaysian Official 1 benefitted greatly from the billions of dollars stolen from the sovereign wealth fund.
For instance, J.P. Morgan Chase and RBS Coutts banking records shows that US$20 million was wired to Malaysian Official 1’s bank account from two Saudi associates of 1MDB official Casey Tan and Low Taek Jho between February and June 2011.
Bank records also revealed that the same account received US$681 million in March 2013. Najib claimed that this was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family, but the DOJ contends the money came from the Tanore Finance Corporation’s account, which is controlled by Low’s associate Eric Tan, but ultimately the cash came from 1MDB.
Furthermore, the DOJ documents claim that a portion of this was used to purchase a 22-carat pink diamond pendant and necklace worth US$27.3 million for Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor on 10 September 2013.
Image sourced from Time.
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