Ex-AG: DoJ action independent, no need to consult Malaysia

Abu-Talib-Othman-1mdb-dojPETALING JAYA: The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) need not consult Malaysian authorities about the 1MDB case as investigations are confined to its jurisdiction, former attorney-general Abu Talib Othman said.

He said the US was concerned about the use of its financial system to purchase assets allegedly using laundered money.

“The question of getting in touch with the Malaysian attorney-general does not arise,” Abu Talib said in response to current AG Mohamed Apandi Ali’s complaint that the DoJ did not refer to his office about the 1MDB case.

Abu Talib, who served as AG from 1980 to 1993, said the DoJ also did not make any allegation against Prime Minister Najib Razak, and that its actions were confined to activities in the US.

“The DoJ is not investigating individuals or activities in Malaysia but their action only concerns using their financial system to acquire assets from funds which were deemed to be illegally acquired,” he said.

Apandi yesterday dismissed the latest suit by US authorities over 1MDB but said Malaysia would welcome any request in line with “our commitment to international cooperation and the fight against money laundering”.

Apandi added that no Malaysian or international authority investigating 1MDB had furnished any evidence of misappropriated funds.

“The same goes for investigations carried out by the DoJ, which had failed to provide any evidence that funds were misappropriated from 1MDB,” Apandi had said in a statement following news reports on the latest DoJ action.

“We would like to express strong concerns at the insinuations that have been made against the prime minister of criminal wrongdoing,” the AG said, adding that no charges had been brought against Najib, who until last year was the chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board.

Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing in connection with 1MDB and was cleared by Apandi on Jan 26, last year.

In its latest court filings in California, the DoJ is seeking to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets including art works, jewellery and film rights purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.

The assets named in the applications included the film rights to two comedies, “Dumb and Dumber To” starring Jim Carrey and “Daddy’s Home” with Will Ferrell. Both productions were allegedly financed with millions of dollars from the state-owned investment fund.

Last July’s civil forfeiture suit sought to recover all the assets including but not limited to the Park Lane hotel in New York, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills, condominiums in New York, a private jet, expensive works of art, as well as the financing of Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street”, which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.

With the recent court filings, the total value of the assets sought by the DoJ increases to US$1.8 billion (RM7.7 billion).

The DoJ charged that from 2009 through 2015, more than US$4.5 billion (RM19 billion) belonging to 1MDB had been diverted by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.

Abu Talib said in any event, the DoJ has to prove its case in court to seize all the assets.

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