WASHINGTON – The US Department of Justice announced on Thursday that it has returned an additional stolen $ 452 million to the Malaysian investment fund known as 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), bringing the total amount of money repatriated to the Malaysian government over over the past five years to at least $ 1.2 billion. .
The funds were laundered through international financial institutions in the United States, Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg, the Justice Department said in a statement.
1MDB was established in 2009 to raise billions of dollars through global partnerships and foreign direct investment to “improve the well-being of the Malaysian people,” according to the Justice Department.
Instead, senior 1MDB officials, associates and businessman Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, are accused of embezzling more than $ 4.5 billion from the fund between 2009. and 2015, according to the Department of Justice.
In a scandal that shocked the financial world, prosecutors said executives spent the stolen money on luxury items such as expensive homes and properties in Beverly Hills, New York and London; a 300 foot superyacht; and the fine arts of Monet and Van Gogh. Some of the embezzled money was used to bribe foreign officials.
Since 2016, the Justice Department claims to have recovered more than $ 1.7 billion in assets stolen from the Malaysian fund. Efforts to recover additional assets linked to the corruption scandal continue, according to the department.
The scandal has entangled large financial institutions and high-level executives. Last year, New York-based Goldman Sachs agreed to pay more than $ 2.9 billion to settle civil and criminal charges in the US, UK, Singapore and elsewhere.
In 2018, a New York federal grand jury indicted Jho and former Goldman Sachs executive Ng Chong Hwa, also known as Roger Ng, with conspiracy to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1MDB and conspiracy. for violating the Corrupt Practices Abroad Law by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials.
Ng was extradited from Malaysia to the United States in 2019. Jho remains a fugitive.
In June, a federal grand jury in Washington, DC, issued an indictment against Jho and Haitian-American rapper Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, accusing them of waging a back door campaign to stop the Department’s investigation. Justice on the 1MDB program.