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Malaysia: Najib’s Brother, Others Ordered to Return Millions in 1MDB Funds

Hadi Azmi
Kuala Lumpur
2019-10-07
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Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission chief Latheefa Koya (center) shows a list of people and companies who are to return 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, during a news conference in Putrajaya, Oct. 7, 2019.
Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission chief Latheefa Koya (center) shows a list of people and companies who are to return 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) funds, during a news conference in Putrajaya, Oct. 7, 2019.
[S. Mahfuz/BenarNews]

Malaysia anti-corruption agency issued notices on Monday to the brother of former Prime Minister Najib Razak and 79 other individuals and organizations, ordering them to return large sums of money allegedly received from troubled state fund 1MDB or face fines.

Nazir Razak and the others received 420 million ringgit (U.S. $100 million) from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), said Latheefa Koya, who heads the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Latheefa said those named people and organizations have two weeks to return the money or face a fine up to 2.5 times the amount owed. The 80 are being investigated under Malaysia’s Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing Act.

“The fine will be as low as the amount they have received or as high as 2.5 times the amount they received. We hope to recover as much as we can,” Latheefa told reporters Monday. “It’s up to them to pay the fine, failing which, we will use the full authority of the powers that were given within the act to take the necessary action.”

Najib is currently on trial in two corruption cases tied to the alleged theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB, a fund he established in 2009 to spur economic development in his country. Altogether, he faces 42 charges of abuse of power, corruption and money laundering, among other alleged crimes.

Latheefa said that Najib’s brother Nazir, the former chairman of the CIMB banking group, had received the most money among the named individuals, adding that more names were expected to be added to the list.

“The list will show that the amount for Nazir, if I’m not mistaken, is about 25.7 million ringgit ($6.1 million),” she said.

Solar Shine Sdn Bhd, a company specializing in organizing events, had received 134 million ringgit ($32 million) in 1MDB money.

“They received it the money through checks – that is why we are able to confirm the trail and track with conviction. We are very clear where the money is from,” she said.

Others named include Ahmad Maslan, a former deputy minister who became an opposition MP after last year’s Pakatan Harapan electoral upset over Najib’s Barisan Nasional coalition.

In a short statement to reporters, Ahmad denied receiving 1MDB funds.

“I have been investigated by the police and the MACC. I informed them that I have never received a check with the amount shown on the check copy linked to me,” he said, adding, “I have also signed documents to the police and MACC that I did not received funds as stated.”

The announcement is different than the civil forfeiture lawsuits related to 1MDB filed in June against 41 individuals and organizations to recover 270 million ringgit ($64.5 million).

Corruption trial begins

Latheefa made her announcement on the same day that the former chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) appeared in court for the first day of his trial on corruption charges.

Prosecutors allege that Mohd Isa Abdul Samad received 3 million ringgit ($716,000) in 2014 and 2015 for assisting in the sale of Merdeka Palace Hotel and Suites in Kuching to the Felda Investment Corp. Sdn Bhd at an inflated price, according to media reports.

Isa pleaded not guilty in December to one count of criminal breach of trust and nine counts of receiving gratification.

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