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It’s official – the 1MDB money was stolen

It’s official – the 1MDB money was stolen

COMMENT The attorney general of the United States, Loretta Lynch, made it official yesterday. She said it very clearly. At least US$3.5 billion belonging to the Malaysian people has been stolen.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the US Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Internal Revenue Service (the US tax revenue agency) have led a very thorough investigation for over one year.

They have concluded that the Malaysian people were robbed. The people’s money was diverted – stolen – from the government’s 1MDB fund through fraud and money laundering.

What was going on in 1MDB throughout this time? Who stole the money? Where did it go? Who was responsible for letting this theft happen?

These are the questions that the US Justice Department has investigated.

We all know that it was Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak who created and led 1MDB, and allegedly worked behind the scenes with flamboyant tycoon Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low.

The US Justice Department report listed three other 1MDB officials who were involved in this fraud. While their names were not mentioned, their titles (CEO, etc) and their terms of service were listed.

So it is easy to figure out who these other officials were.

In her press conference, Lynch and her associates used the word “stolen” over and over again.

Lynch and her colleagues also said that “corrupt Malaysian officials and their associates” engaged in money laundering, an international crime.

She and her colleagues also mentioned the name “Aziz” many times. They said that “Aziz” was one of the people involved in this theft from the Malaysian people and the diversion of funds from 1MDB.

They detailed how “Aziz” used the money gained through illegal money laundering for his own purposes – to buy real estate in New York, London, and Los Angeles – and even make Hollywood movies.

Based on the Justice Department’s filings with the court, we know clearly that “Aziz” is the stepson of Najib. They mentioned Aziz by his full name, Riza Aziz.

The department’s filing also referred to Riza Aziz as a relative of ‘Malaysia Official 1’, who is also implicated in this scandal.

Malaysia Official 1’s role in this scandal is outlined in the Justice Department filings. The Justice Department said that Malaysia Official 1, who is not named in its documents, played a central role in directing 1MDB’s activities, which led to the disappearance of at least US$3.5 billion. There are 32 references to Malaysia Official 1 in the Justice Department report.

It is an easy conclusion who Malaysia Official 1 is. Based on its description, the US Justice Department is talking about Najib.

Where did the stolen money go?

The money that was stolen from 1MDB – or as Lynch said, stolen from the Malaysian people – was used to buy private homes in New York, London, and Beverly Hills, three of which are occupied by Riza.

According to the US Justice Department, some of the stolen money was used to pay off gambling debts in Las Vegas and hold lavish parties. (They did not say whose debts they were.)

It also financed Hollywood movies and bought a stake in EMI Music Publishing. It paid for a US$35 million Bombardier jet plane and a Claude Monet painting.

The Justice Department filings also said that a lot of the money went to Malaysia Official 1, who received hundreds of millions of 1MDB dollars in his private bank account. The US government traced the path of that money. It went through many “cut-outs” to a Saudi prince, who then sent the money to Najib.

Perhaps that will explain the Malaysian government’s claim that the money came from a Saudi prince. In the end, yes, that is true. He was a prince, one of many thousands of princes in Saudi Arabia.

But according to the US Justice Department, the money – the stolen funds that Malaysia Official 1 received in his private bank account from that prince – originally came from 1MDB.

This is what the US government – the Justice Department, the FBI, and the Internal Revenue Service – concluded. And it is what they had the courage to say in public, no matter what the impact on US-Malaysia relations.

This is not the end. The US government is continuing its criminal investigations into money-laundering, wire fraud, and obstruction of justice.

I am sure that there will be criminal indictments in the future against specific individuals, starting with “Aziz” and “Jho Low.”

For certain, “Malaysia Official 1” will be named an “unindicted co-conspirator” in the future. But once he leaves office, he might be indicted in a US court.

The other foreign governments around the world that are investigating the 1MDB corruption will now feel “invigorated” and will step up their own investigations. More charges, in more countries, are to come.

As for Najib, he is now facing the full force of the FBI and the US Department of Justice. They cannot be intimidated. They cannot be arrested. They cannot be charged with sedition. They cannot be bullied.

How will Najib respond?

…more
It’s official – the 1MDB money was stolen
John R Malott
21 July 2016 – malaysiakini

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