PETALING JAYA: The government is being irresponsible by not sending legal representation to observe the suits filed by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) to seize assets purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB, says Lim Kit Siang.
The DAP supremo called such inaction by Putrajaya “the height of irresponsibility and professional negligence”, in response to a reply in the Dewan Rakyat by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said yesterday.
In a written reply to a question from Azman Ismail (PKR-Kuala Kedah) in the House, the defacto law minister said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is not planning to send observers to attend any hearings pertaining to the DoJ suits, which had been filed in California.
“The Malaysian government is a firm believer in the rule of law and respects the right of the DoJ to take legal action within the confines of the law,” Azalina said.
Lim, who is also Gelang Patah MP, called Azalina’s answer shocking.
“If the Najib government is consistent, isn’t the Attorney-General’s Chambers seeking an intervention in the US DoJ proceedings to prove that the US DoJ civil forfeiture proceedings are completely misplaced.
“This would be assumed based on what has been said before, that the Malaysian government and 1MDB had not lost a single sen and that no 1MDB funds had been money-laundered through Americans banks,” Lim said in a statement.
He also questioned if Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali would seek an intervention in the DoJ proceedings.
“Wouldn’t Apandi want to intervene in the case and submit to the courts there that the DoJ’s forfeiture suits were misconceived, wrong and mischievous as the so-called 1MDB international money-laundering scandal never existed?”
Lim, who is DAP parliamentary leader, also called for Apandi to make a special submission to the courts and demand the return of the gifts that had been given by Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho (Jho Low) to US actor Leonardo DiCaprio and Australian model Miranda Kerr to the US DoJ.
“Representatives of Leonardo Di Caprio announced last month that the American actor had turned over an Oscar won by Marlon Brando to US investigators probing money laundering by 1MDB as well as initiated the return of other, unidentified items that the actor said he accepted as gifts for a charity auction and which allegedly originated from 1MDB.
“It was also reported last month that Miranda Kerr had returned gifts, including an 11.72 carat heart-shaped diamond valued at US$1.29 million and a US$3.8 million 8.88 carat diamond pendant.”
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).
Apandi had described the DoJ’s action as motivated by a political agenda, and expressed dissatisfaction that he was not consulted by the department.