The United States Justice Department announced today that it is moving to seize approximately $1 billion dollars worth of assets believed to have been embezzled from the 1 Malaysia Development Bank (1MDB). Charges have not yet been brought against any individuals, though Hollywood producer Riza Aziz, stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, and others were mentioned in court filings.
The 1MDB was set up to help modernize the Malaysian economy, drawing in foreign investments and spurring the growth of high-value industries. Instead, as much as $4 billion dollars worth of funding may have gone missing, according to Swiss authorities. A Malaysian parliamentary committee also found that approximately $4.2 of irregular transactions.
“Wolf of Wall Street”, Manhattan penthouses, other assets implicated
Commercially successful and critically acclaimed “Wolf of Wall Street” is among the many assets cited in the Justice Department's court filings. It is believed that movie producer Riza Aziz and his production company Red Granite received funds illicitly through a money laundering scheme that sent money from the 1MDB through a network of holding companies in offshoring hubs.
The money was then used to fund the “Wolf of Wall Street”, ironically a story about defrauding investors, and other movies. Meanwhile, Jho Low, a family friend of the Razak family, went on an international buying spree, buying penthouses in Manhattan and mansions in Los Angeles.
The Justice Department is also seizing other assets, including a painting by a Vincent van Goh, and various other assets.
Malaysian government bonds sold, money stolen.
The Justice Department believes that much of the money was stolen following two separate bond offerings arranged by Goldman Sachs in 2012. Billions were raised, with as much as 40% of it, or about $1.4 billion dollars, then being diverted to Swiss bank accounts. In 2013, another $1 billion dollars was diverted, again following a bond offering arranged by Goldman Sachs.
In total, the 1MDB fund amassed approximately $11 billion dollars worth of debt. In April and May, the fund defaulted on some of its debts, forcing Abu Dhabi's International Petroleum Investment Co., which guaranteed the fund, to make interest rate payments. #World Politics #Crime