AG urged to appoint counsel to represent Malaysia’s interest in DoJ suit

Haniff-Khatri-apandiPETALING JAYA: Attorney-General Mohamad Apandi Ali should appoint a lawyer to include Putrajaya as a party in the 1MDB civil forfeiture suit and prove the latest statement by his United States counterpart is untrue, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s lawyer said.

Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla said such intervention would also enable Malaysia to prove the findings of the Department of Justice (DoJ) as false in the US court.

“Failure by Apandi to act on the latest development will mean our AG is only a village champion,” he said in his blog post.

He said, in the past, Prime Minister Najib Razak and Apandi had denied any criminal investigation by other countries that touched on the state investor, but without proper explanation.

“This time around Apandi should respond to the US AG’s statement and show there is no criminal offence discovered in the 1MDB case,” he said.

He said this in response to US chief legal adviser Jeff Sessions’ revelation on Monday that nearly half of the US$3.5 billion corruption proceeds seized by the US was related to the 1MDB enforcement action.

Speaking at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery hosted by the US and UK in Washington, Sessions hit out at the 1MDB issue, calling it “kleptocracy at its worst”.

1MDB was created by the Malaysian government to promote long-term economic development for the benefit of the Malaysian people.

In his speech, Sessions said everyone, whether prosecutors, judges or legislators, had a responsibility to pursue the common good for the people they served.

“While each of us has limited jurisdiction, we must recognise that the consequences of our actions can be felt around the world.

“You can be sure of this: the United States will do our part. And we urge every government to do their part, as well,” he added.

Haniff said alternatively Apandi should issue an official statement to denounce Sessions’ statement or send a protest note to the US embassy here and demand an apology for linking Najib in DoJ documents filed in court.

Sessions said 1MDB officials had allegedly laundered more than US$4.5 billion in funds “through a complex web of opaque transactions and fraudulent shell companies with bank accounts in countries ranging from Switzerland and Singapore to Luxembourg and the United States”.

In court filings in California on June 5, the DoJ sought to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets, including art works, jewellery, a luxury yacht and film rights purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.

The assets named in the applications included the film rights to the two comedies “Dumb and Dumber To” starring Jim Carrey and “Daddy’s Home” featuring Will Ferrell.

The action followed the DoJ’s civil forfeiture suit in June last year 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 and expensive works of art, as well as finances related to Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

Najib, who until last year was the chairman of 1MDB’s advisory board, has denied any wrongdoing and has been cleared by Apandi.