SINGAPORE is returning almost S$50.3 million (RM153 million) to Malaysia seized in connection with a massive financial scandal that played a major role in the toppling of the corruption-plagued government of Najib Razak, police said.
The city-state is one of several countries that launched probes into allegations that billions of dollars were misappropriated from sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd in an elaborate ruse that stretched from Asia to the United States.
The scandal – allegedly involving ex-prime minister Najib, his family members and inner circle – played a key role in the defeat of Barisan Nasional at the 14thgeneral election last year.
Singapore police said their commercial affairs department had filed applications to return around S$50.3 million of seized money linked to 1MDB to Malaysia, and the courts have given their approval.
“Part of the monies have already been transferred to Malaysia, while the rest are still being processed by the banks,” they said yesterday.
Police did not disclose from where the money was seized.
The US Department of Justice, which has been seizing assets in the US allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB money, believes that some US$4.5 billion (RM19 billion) was plundered from the fund.
Singapore’s investigations into 1MDB centred on allegations that its financial system was used to launder some of the stolen funds.
The financial hub has jailed a Swiss banker and three Singaporean private bankers for their roles in the affair.
It has closed the local branches of two Swiss banks, which were allegedly used to transfer illicit funds, for what regulators called massive lapses in financial controls.
Najib is now on trial for criminal breach of trust, money-laundering and abuse of power in relation to a former 1MDB unit, SRC International. – AFP
Court okays seizure of RM49 million in Jho Low’s father’s accounts
THE Kuala Lumpur High Court today allowed the seizure of RM48.9 million in the bank accounts of Larry Low Hock Peng, the father of Low Taek Jho.
Judge Mohamed Zaini Mazlan ruled in favour of Deputy Public Prosecutor Aaron Chelliah after no third party appeared to stake a claim on the assets.
Larry was absent from the open court proceedings this morning. A warrant for his arrest was issued.
Larry is believed to be lying low overseas. Police are also seeking his son, financier Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, for questioning in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Bhd financial scandal.
The government filed a suit in March 29 to seize at least RM48.9 million in Larry’s seven bank accounts, on suspicions the cash is linked to money laundering activities.
Prosecutors told the court in April they were unable to serve Larry his papers and his whereabouts were unknown.
Taek Jho has accused the government led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad of harassment and ”political persecution” against the Low family.
“Once again, the Mahathir regime has ignored the rule of law, and in a clear abuse of power is seeking to exploit the AG’s office and police force to attack opponents and do Mahathir regime’s personal bidding,” Taek Jho’s spokesman said in a statement on March 30.
The government filed the civil assets forfeiture action under Section 56(2) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.
The application sought to confiscate RM41.6 million in four RHB Bank accounts in Kuala Lumpur and some RM7.4 million in three Maybank accounts in Penang.
The notice of seizure dated January 17, 2019, was addressed to Taek Jho’s mother, Goh Gaik Ewe, 66.
The 38-year-old Taek Jho is accused of masterminding a scheme to relieve the state-backed1MDB of billions of dollars.
In August last year, Larry, a well-known Penang businessman, and his son were charged in absentia with offences linked to the 1MDB financial scandal.
Taek Jho has maintained his innocence.
His mother, Goh, was also linked to the case by gifts of expensive jewellery from her son allegedly paid for with money stolen from 1MDB.
She reached settlement with the US Department of Justice on the case last month without admission of wrongdoing.
The Low’s last known address is 69, Tanjung Bungah Park, Penang.