Behind the 1MDB scandal – Part 4

Behind the 1MDB scandal: How banks missed clues and bowed to pressure

Transfer of $US681 million arrived

In March 2013, a transfer of $US681 million arrived, according to the Justice Department. AmBank’s Ms Yu messaged Mr Low that the bank needed more documentation, according to transcripts of BlackBerry messages. A new letter, dated March 1, 2013, vouched for an $US800 million donation to Mr Najib from the same Saudi prince.

Ms. Yu and Mr Low also discussed how to transfer the money. Such transfers involving dollars require the involvement of a US bank, called a correspondent bank. The two discussed whether to use Wells Fargo & Co. or J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.

“Can do JP, but may raise ques too … suspect better keep to wachovia,” Ms. Yu wrote, referring to a unit of Wells Fargo.

“Okay, wachovia then,” he replied. The transfer went through the Wells Fargo unit.

At various points, J.P. Morgan, Citigroup Inc. and other banks also acted as correspondent banks for other transactions involving funds from 1MDB, documents detailing the transfers indicate.

Under US law, banks dealing in dollar transactions are required to implement anti-money-laundering provisions, including knowing the source and recipient of funds, and to report suspicious transactions. Wells Fargo, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan declined to comment.

As a tight general election approached, Mr Najib sent hundreds of checks to ruling party politicians to help fund his campaign, the Journal reported last year. He narrowly retained power.

After the election, Mr Najib closed his main account at AmBank and sent about $US620 million back to the offshore company it came from, according to transfer documents. It isn’t clear what happened to that money.

Behind the 1MDB scandal: How banks missed clues and bowed to pressure
Tom Wright, Bradley Hope
Wall Street Journal
September 6, 2016 – The Australian


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