US moves to seize $1 billion in assets of Malaysian 1MDB fund

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch will reveal details of the seizure effort later today. In photo: US Attorney General Loretta Lynch testifies during a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Photograph:( Getty )

AFP Washington DC, United States Jul 20, 2016, 02.43 PM (IST)
The US Justice Department said today it is moving to seize more than $1 billion in assets linked to Malaysia's 1Malaysia Development Berhad state investment fund.

The assets are "associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated" from 1MBD, which was established by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to support economic investment, the Justice Department said.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch will reveal details of the seizure effort later today.

The scandal around the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the fund, much of them borrowed, has battered Najib's government.

Authorities from Singapore to Switzerland and the United States have joined in tracking down missing funds of 1MDB, which is owned by the Malaysian Finance Ministry also headed by Najib. He also chaired the company's advisory board until it was dissolved in May.

Switzerland and Singapore have frozen millions of dollars worth of assets on suspicion of 1MDB-related embezzlement and money-laundering but so far no major figures have been brought to justice.

In July 2015, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Najib had received payments totaling $681 million in his personal bank accounts in 2013. Subsequent reports said the money originated from 1MDB and may have exceeded $1 billion, which 1MDB denies.

The government later acknowledged the payments, but called them a "personal donation" from the Saudi royal family.

(AFP)