KUALA LUMPUR: The statement by minister in the prime minister’s department Azalina Othman Said that Malaysia will not appoint legal officers to observe the proceedings of the latest 1MDB-related lawsuit filed by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) is “irresponsible” and “makes no sense”, says Gobind Singh Deo.
The DAP Puchong MP said Malaysia should be involved in the civil suit since the DoJ was seeking to forfeit billions of ringgit worth of assets bought with money allegedly siphoned from 1MDB.
“We must defend and protect our national assets. The best way in this issue is to appoint lawyers to observe the proceedings.
“Not to do so is an irresponsible act. Although I respect Azalina, her action does not make sense,” he told a news conference in Parliament today.
Azalina said in a written reply to the Dewan Rakyat today that Malaysia would not send legal observers to the DoJ civil suit proceedings.
She justified the decision by saying the DoJ suit was a non-criminal action, and Malaysia respected the right of the DoJ to take legal action within the confines of US laws.
However, Gobind contended that US laws and Malaysia’s wish to respect the DoJ’s legal right did not bar Malaysia from involving itself in the proceedings.
“Just because the lawsuit is a non-criminal action does not mean we should wait without doing anything. We should be proactive as this case involves a massive amount of money and has attracted global interest,” he said.
In its June 15 court filing in California, the DoJ stated it was seeking to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets including art works, jewellery, a yacht worth US$165 million, and film rights purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.
The assets named in the application included the film rights to two comedies, “Dumb and Dumber To” starring Jim Carrey and “Daddy’s Home” with Will Ferrell.
This action follows the first civil suit filed by the DoJ last July which 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 filing, the total value of the assets sought by the DoJ has increased to US$1.8 billion (RM7.7 billion).
Attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali had described the DoJ’s action as motivated by a political agenda, and expressed dissatisfaction that he was not consulted by the department.