KUALA LUMPUR — August 18, 2016: Malaysia will take legal action against individuals named in civil lawsuits filed by U.S. prosecutors last month if there is proof that they defrauded a Malaysian state-owned fund, a minister said today.
More than $3.5 billion was allegedly misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), founded by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, according to civil lawsuits filed by the U.S. Justice Department.
Minister Datuk Paul Low, whose portfolio covers governance and integrity, said criminal prosecution “must be instituted” against all involved if funds were “stolen from us”.
“Our enforcement agencies and the attorney-general must cooperate fully with all international agencies to deal with the matter in an appropriate manner in order to allay negative perception and restore the trust and confidence of the people for the government,” he said, according to the text of his speech at an event.
The lawsuits named several individuals, including Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, popularly referred to as Jho Low.
The civil suits also seek to seize $1 billion in assets believed to have been bought using money stolen from 1MDB, the
largest case to date in the U.S. Justice Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
Najib has weathered persistent calls for him to step down over his handling of the 1MDB issue, which is also being investigated by at least five other countries.
Najib has denied any wrongdoing and has said the lawsuit does not involve him.