DOJ targets Hollywood producer’s bank account over 1MDB scandal

NEW YORK: The US Justice Department has expanded the scope of its civil forfeiture in the 1MDB bribery scandal, seeking US$38 million (RM155 million) in funds connected with luxury real estate and Hollywood producer Joey McFarland’s bank account, the New York Post reported.

It said federal prosecutors were zeroing in on more than US$4.5 billion that was syphoned out of the sovereign wealth fund, alleged to have been used as the personal piggy bank of Hollywood financier Jho Low.

Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, has previously maintained his innocence.

The New York Post said Friday’s action expands the US$1.6 billion already sought by the DOJ’s kleptocracy unit.

It said this probe targets money that Low diverted from bond sales to pay for a luxury apartment in London, and proceeds from a previous apartment sale in New York, according to the 261-page complaint.

Joey McFarland.

The authorities are also looking for about US$1.3 million in funds controlled by an unnamed Kentucky company that was apparently used by McFarland, a Low business partner who co-founded the company that produced the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, as part of a complicated scheme that transferred proceeds to a law firm.

“These new lawsuits target assets collected by corrupt officials and their associates through a massive scheme that stole billions of dollars from the people of Malaysia and laundered the proceeds across the world,” Nick Hanna, Los Angeles US Attorney, said.

The funds in Friday’s forfeiture motion came from money raised in bond sales by Goldman Sachs in 2012 and 2013, the newspaper reported.