Thursday, January 14, 2021
Thursday, January 14, 2021

United States Seeks to Recover more than $1 Billion Obtained from Corruption involving Malaysian Sovereign Wealth Fund

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Los Angeles, CA – The Justice Department announced today the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

  • More than $3.5 billion in funds belonging to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates
  • According to the 16 complaints filed in US District Court in Los Angeles, the United States seeks to recover more than $1 billion laundered through the United States and traceable to the conspiracy
  • Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced the filing of the complaints on Weds July 20 at a news conference in Washington, D.C
  • The complaints represent the largest single action ever brought under the Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative
  • Using fraudulent documents and representations, the co-conspirators allegedly laundered the funds through a series of complex transactions and fraudulent shell companies with bank accounts located around the world
  • As further detailed in the complaints, the stolen funds were laundered into the United States and used by the co-conspirators to acquire and invest in various assets
  • These assets allegedly included high-end real estate and hotel properties in New York and Los Angeles, a $35 million jet aircraft, works of art by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, an interest in the music publishing rights of EMI Music and the production of the 2013 film The Wolf of Wall Street

“The associates of these corrupt 1MDB officials are alleged to have used some of the illicit proceeds of their fraud scheme to fund the production of The Wolf of Wall Street, a movie about a corrupt stockbroker who tried to hide his own illicit profits in a perceived foreign safe haven. But whether corrupt officials try to hide stolen assets across international borders – or behind the silver screen – the Department of Justice is committed to ensuring that there is no safe haven.” – Assistant Attorney General Caldwell

  • The FBI’s International Corruption Unit and IRS-CI investigated the case
  • Los Angeles-based Assistant U.S. Attorneys John Kucera and Christen Sproule, along with Deputy Chief Woo S. Lee and Trial Attorney Kyle R. Freeny of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, are prosecuting the case
  • The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided additional assistance
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