Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday that more than RM57 million from 1MDB has also been used to sponsor more than 5,700 haj pilgrims, declaring that the state investment firm has been regularly funding welfare programmes.
On its website, 1MDB has also listed down several recipients of its charitable efforts over the years.
However, far from seeming benevolent, the company’s RM690 million in CSR funding is glaringly paltry in the light of the US$4.5 billion (RM19.3 billion) it is currently accused of embezzling.
Last month, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed its third suit seeking to seize US$1.7 billion (RM7.3 billion) in assets believed to be bought with money stolen from 1MDB.
The suit brings the total value of misappropriated funds to US$4.5 billion.
In its website, 1MDB lists Dana PIBG grants, academic grants for SPM and STPM students, academic grants for Sri Murugan Centre and United Examination Certificate (UEC) holders, Dana Belia 1Malaysia and 1Malaysia Mobile Clinics as some recipients of its charitable efforts.
The company said in January that the Yayasan 1MDB sponsorship for “Program Khas Haji” was funded from business operations in energy production and later, real estate development.
Other recipients of its money include Projek Majudiri, a scheme supporting entrepreneurs and the construction of 12 halfway houses in Sarawak’s interior.
But the construction of a dozen basic, low-cost homes pales in comparison with a US$261 million yacht owned by Penang-born investor Low Taek Jho called “The Equanimity”, which has been named as one of the many assets targeted by the DoJ in its latest seizure.
Other items the DoJ aims to seize as part of its kleptocracy asset recovery initiative include rights to the movie The Wolf of Wall Street, amounting to US$155 million, a 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace costing US$27.3 million that was given to the wife of “Malaysian Official No. 1” by Low, and more than US$1 billion in real estate using funds allegedly diverted from 1MDB, including the Park Lane Hotel in New York worth US$202 million.
In an interview with the BBC last September, Minister in the Prime Minister’s office Rahman Dahlan said “MO1” refers to Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib, who set up 1MDB in 2009, has consistently denied any wrongdoing. Umno leaders have accused the American authorities and the opposition of working together to overthrow the government.