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U.S. Moves to Seize Diamonds, a Picasso and Hollywood Films in Malaysian Case – NY Times

U.S. Moves to Seize Diamonds, a Picasso and Hollywood Films in Malaysian Case

BANGKOK — A Picasso painting given to the actor Leonardo DiCaprio, the rights to two Hollywood comedies and a $27.3 million diamond necklace belonging to the wife of Malaysia’s prime minister are among half a billion dollars in assets sought by the United States in a widening money-laundering inquiry.

A complaint filed on Thursday by the United States Justice Department seeks $540 million in assets, including a luxury yacht and expensive real estate, that it says were bought with money stolen from a government fund in Malaysia overseen by the country’s prime minister, Najib Razak.

Together with a previous complaint, the Justice Department is seeking nearly $1.7 billion in assets it says were stolen from the fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, and laundered through financial institutions in the United States.

The complaint says that more than $4.5 billion was “misappropriated” by high-level Malaysian officials and their associates. A complaint filed last year said that $731 million from the fund was deposited into bank accounts belonging to Mr. Najib.

“These cases involve billions of dollars that should have been used to help the people of Malaysia, but instead was used by a small number of individuals to fuel their astonishing greed,” the acting United States attorney, Sandra R. Brown, said in a statement.

Mr. Najib, who is identified in the 251-page complaint only as Malaysian Official 1, has denied any wrongdoing. He has boasted of golfing with President Trump, but any hope he had that Mr. Trump’s election might curb the American investigation appears to have been dashed.

Mr. Najib’s attorney general, Mohamed Apandi Ali, issued a statement on Friday noting that investigations by Mr. Najib’s government had found no evidence that money was misappropriated.

Mr. Najib’s press secretary, Tengku Sariffuddin, suggested the United States’ action was politically motivated. Malaysia is “concerned by the unnecessary and gratuitous naming of certain matters and individuals that are only relevant to domestic political manipulation and interference,” he said. “This suggests a motivation that goes beyond the objective of seizing assets.”

The Malaysian government created the fund in 2008 ostensibly to promote economic development. But it borrowed heavily, and much of the money was used in questionable investment schemes.

A central player in establishing the fund was Jho Low, a friend of Mr. Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz.

The latest complaint seeks to recover more than $400 million from Mr. Low, including his $250 million yacht, Equanimity. Mr. Low’s location is unknown.

Mr. Low used some of the funds to finance a lavish style and befriend celebrities, including hiring them to attend parties, the complaint says.

It seeks the recovery of more than $8 million in diamond jewelry that Mr. Low is said to have given to Miranda Kerr, an Australian model, including an 11.72-carat, heart-shaped diamond for Valentine’s Day in 2014. Ms. Kerr could not be reached immediately for comment.

U.S. Moves to Seize Diamonds, a Picasso and Hollywood Films in Malaysian Case
JUNE 16, 2017 – NY Times


Bar joins calls for probe into report of RM9.5 million payment to lawyer

Bar joins calls for probe into report of RM9.5 million payment to lawyer

THE Malaysian Bar has urged police to investigate the “serious” allegations that the lead prosecutor in Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial was paid RM9.5 million by Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Bar president George Varughese told FMT that while it would be premature for the Bar to refer the lawyer to the Advocates and Solicitors Disciplinary Board due to insufficient evidence of misconduct, police must launch a thorough investigation quickly.

“Police must probe the case thoroughly since the allegation is very serious,” said Varughese.

On May 31, whistleblower site Sarawak Report reported that prominent Umno lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the lead prosecutor in Anwar’s trial, was paid RM9.5 million, which came directly from Najib’s 1MDB slush fund accounts.

Shafee has declined to respond to The Malaysian Insights requests for comment.

Yesterday, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman filed a report urging police to investigate the whistleblower’s claims for the sake of the good name of the Malaysian judiciary. – June 3, 2017.

Bar joins calls for probe into report of RM9.5 million payment to lawyer
3 Jun 2017 – Malaysian Insight


New revelations by the US DOJ require answers and action

MEDIA STATEMENT (16 JUNE 2017): New revelations by the US DOJ require answers and action

BERSIH 2.0 is appalled by the new revelations from the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ) suit on the misappropriation of funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The US DOJ now alleges, with comprehensive records of emails, bank transfers and phone calls, that $4.5 billion (approximately RM17 billion) was misappropriated by high-level officials to finance their “lavish lifestyles…at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people”.

The filings also show that the statement made by Attorney General Apandi Ali in January 2016, clearing Prime Minister Najib Razak of all charges, was false. It directly contradicts Apandi Ali by stating 1MDB was the only source of funds for the $681 million transferred to Najib.

This is a damning indictment on Malaysia’s public institutions. The reaction from the Prime Minister’s Office, the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police have either accused the US DOJ of “insinuations” against Najib, “domestic political manipulation and interference” or refused to cooperate with the suit.

However, no evidence has been provided to contradict the 250-page court filing. There is also no evidence to contradict the allegations and admissions that these funds were used to manipulate the results of the 13th General Election through unparalleled bribery and money politics.

In light of these statements, Malaysians are once again reminded of how Najib fired the then Attorney General, removed those in Cabinet raising questions and gutted the Public Accounts Committee investigation when these revelations first broke in 2015.

Since then, the Malaysian people have been given no clear explanation by our own institutions into the location of the missing funds. It has been seven years since the issues with 1MDB were first raised in Parliament, but the truth is still being kept from the rakyat. As an obvious indication of the lack of transparency and accountability surrounding this scandal, the Auditor General’s report into 1MDB remains under the Official Secrets Act.

BERSIH 2.0 once again demands the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak in order to make way for an independent investigation into 1MDB and the restoration of the independence of our institutions. Malaysians must not stop demanding accountability and transparency from our public officials. With the 14th General Election fast approaching, we must make our voices heard in calling for an end to corruption and fraud in all our public institutions.

Issued by:
The BERSIH 2.0 Steering Committee

MEDIA STATEMENT (16 JUNE 2017): New revelations by the US DOJ require answers and action
16 June 2017 – BERSIH 2.0


PM’s wife linked to US$30m worth of jewellery bought with 1MDB funds

PM’s wife linked to US$30m worth of jewellery bought with 1MDB funds

KUALA LUMPUR (June 16): Nearly US$30 million of funds stolen from scandal-hit 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) was used to buy jewellery for the prime minister’s wife, including a rare 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace, according to the latest filings by the US Justice Department in a civil lawsuit.

The filings lodged at the US District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday did not identify Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak or his wife Rosmah Mansor by name, but said the jewellery purchases were for the wife of ‘Malaysian Official 1’.

Malaysian and US government sources have previously confirmed that ‘Malaysian Official 1’ refers to Najib.

The diamond necklace set alone cost US$27.3 million, according to latest filings in a lawsuit that was launched in July last year.

The accusations will provide further ammunition for Najib’s political rivals, who often criticise his wife for lavish spending, and come at an awkward time for the Malaysian leader, as he had been expected to call a snap election later this year.

Rosmah’s aide did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The prime minister’s office, in a statement early on Friday, said it was “concerned by the unnecessary and gratuitous naming of certain matters and individuals that are only relevant to domestic political manipulation and interference.” Najib has consistently denied any wrongdoing.

A total of US$4.5 billion have been misappropriated from 1MDB, the Justice Department said on Thursday. The fund was set up by Najib in 2009 to promote economic development.

The department is seeking to seize a total of about US$1.7 billion in assets that were bought with misappropriated funds, including a Picasso painting that was given to actor Leonardo DiCaprio and the rights to two Hollywood films.

“This money financed the lavish lifestyles of the alleged co-conspirators at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people,” acting US Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said in a statement.

The jewellery purchases were arranged by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, who was also accused of gifting DiCaprio a US$3.2 million Picasso.

A spokesman for DiCaprio on Thursday said that the actor had begun proceedings to transfer ownership of the Picasso to the US government, having in July 2016 “initiated the return” of gifts he had received from financiers connected to the 1MDB case.

Low, whose whereabouts are unknown, could not be reached for comment.

In an emailed statement through a representative, Low said the Justice Department’s actions were “a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case.”

“The US Department of Justice’s latest move continues its inappropriate efforts to seize assets despite not having proven that any improprieties have occurred,” the statement read.

Rasky Partners, a public relations firm that emailed his statement, could not be immediately reached by phone.


The lawsuits show the jewellery for Rosmah was bought with funds that passed through Najib’s account. The jewellery, like the Picasso painting, was purchased with funds traceable to diverted proceeds from a 2013 bond offering by 1MDB, according to the filings.

The diamond necklace was bought in 2013, just months after US$680 million was transferred to the private bank account of Najib in Kuala Lumpur, the filings show. The Malaysian government says that money came from a member of the Saudi royal family.

The necklace was purchased from New York jeweller Lorraine Schwartz, who has designed for Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Lopez and other stars of the entertainment world.

“Need a 18 carrot (carat) pink heart diamond vivid or slightly short of vivid. On diamond necklace urgent,” Low said in a text message to Schwartz in June 2013, the filings said.

A month later Schwartz showed the necklace in Monaco to a group of people, including Rosmah, onboard Topaz, one of the largest private yachts in the world.

Low had chartered the 147-meter yacht for seven days in early July 2013, according to the filings.

Rosmah and Low met with Schwartz again at a hotel in New York in September that year, when Najib was in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

The necklace was eventually delivered to an unnamed friend of Rosmah’s in 2014 in Hong Kong, who then handed it over to Rosmah in Kuala Lumpur, the filings said.

Low also arranged for the purchase of 27 pieces of jewellery — worth a total of US$1.3 million — for Rosmah in 2014.

The lawsuits also describe how Low spent about US$9 million in 2014 buying jewellery for Australian model Miranda Kerr.

Low bought a necklace with a 11.72-carat heart-shaped diamond for US$1.29 million, with Kerr’s initials “MK” inscribed on the back. The necklace was given to Kerr as a Valentine’s Day gift, according to the lawsuit.

Later that same year, Low bought a 8.88-carat pink heart diamond pendant worth US$4.8 million, also as a gift for Kerr.

Reuters was unable to immediately contact Kerr, who married Snapchat cofounder and CEO Evan Spiegel late last month.

PM’s wife linked to US$30m worth of jewellery bought with 1MDB funds
June 16, 2017 – The Edge Markets


U.S.’s Latest Target in 1MDB Probe – WSJ

U.S.’s Latest Target in 1MDB Probe: Leo DiCaprio’s Art, Miranda Kerr’s Jewelry

The Justice Department files lawsuits to seize assets allegedly bought with money stolen from a Malaysian investment fund, including a $250 million yacht

U.S. prosecutors have broadened their effort to seize assets they allege were bought with money stolen in a Malaysian financial scandal, filing lawsuits to claim diamonds given to model Miranda Kerr, movie posters and artwork given to Leonardo DiCaprio, and a megayacht known as the Equanimity.

The suits, filed Thursday by the U.S. Justice Department, are the latest seeking to claim property and other assets linked to alleged fraud at a Malaysian state fund called 1Malaysia Development Bhd., known as 1MDB. Thursday’s suits aim to recover $540 million in property, bringing the total amount claimed by the U.S. Justice Department to more than $1.6 billion.

The government is also trying to seize the rights to movies “Dumber and Dumber To,” starring comedian Jim Carrey, and “Daddy’s Home,” which are held by Red Granite Pictures, a production company whose chairman is the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

Civil asset-forfeiture lawsuits are filed against the assets themselves and not individuals. Owners of the assets can contest the forfeiture.

The latest lawsuits highlight the global nature of the scandal at 1MDB, which was launched by Mr. Najib to spur economic development. The fund borrowed more than $13 billion but had little to show for it, and the Justice Department alleges that billions of dollars were stolen by people close to the prime minister.

This is the Justice Department’s largest-ever antikleptocracy case. The alleged 1MDB fraud is under investigation in several other countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Luxembourg. Malaysia closed all but one of its probes without finding wrongdoing.

“Today’s complaints reveal another chapter of this multiyear, multibillion-dollar fraud scheme, bringing the total identified stolen proceeds to $4.5 billion,” acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Blanco said Thursday in a statement. “This money financed the lavish lifestyles of the alleged co-conspirators at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people.”

The seizure lawsuits, the first of which were filed last summer, include paintings by van Gogh and Monet, luxury real estate in New York, London and Beverly Hills, and profits from the movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which was produced by Red Granite. Red Granite was co-founded by Riza Aziz, Mr. Najib’s stepson.

The U.S. government also moved to seize luxury properties of Mr. Aziz as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in property and investments owned by his friend and Mr. Najib’s confidant, Jho Low. Mr. Low got to know Mr. DiCaprio starting in 2009, say people familiar with their relationship, and he later gave the actor several gifts that the Justice Department alleges were bought with money stolen from 1MDB.

“This week’s activity from the DOJ is a further example of global overreach in pursuit of a deeply flawed case,” Mr. Low said through a representative. “We look forward to the court being presented with the actual facts, which demonstrate that the DOJ’s case is completely without foundation.

A spokesman for Mr. DiCaprio said the actor is cooperating with the government and has given it the items he received, including an Oscar originally won by Marlon Brando in 1955 for best actor in “On the Waterfront.” The item was given to Mr. DiCaprio as a gift by Red Granite for his work on “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

The actor also received as gifts a painting by Pablo Picasso, a Diana Arbus photograph and a collage by Jean-Michel Basquiat, according to the suit.

Mr. DiCaprio has said the gifts were donations for a charity auction for his foundation.

Red Granite said in a statement that it is cooperating with the government and remains an active movie-production company.

The government has already sued Red Granite for future income from “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and the studio has agreed to separate its future earnings from the film pending the outcome of the investigation.

Mr. Aziz couldn’t be reached for comment. Previously, he has said he had no knowledge that the funds for Red Granite originally came from 1MDB.

The lawsuits also allege that Mr. Low had given $8 million worth of jewelry to Ms. Kerr from New York jeweler Lorraine Schwartz, including an 11.72 carat heart-shaped diamond on Valentine’s Day in 2014. Mr. Low and Ms. Kerr were dating at the time, according to a person who knows them. Ms. Kerr was married last month to Snap Inc. co-founder Evan Spiegel.

Most of the assets in the lawsuits belong to Mr. Low, a flamboyant Malaysian deal maker who is a central figure in the alleged misappropriation of funds from 1MDB, according to the Justice Department. His yacht was sighted Thursday off the coast of the Cambodian island of Koh Rong, according to ship-tracking site MarineTraffic.

The lawsuits allege Mr. Low used money siphoned from 1MDB to buy jewelry worth $200 million from companies around the world between April 2013 and September 2014. Some of that was given to Ms. Kerr, and nearly $30 million was given to Rosmah Mansor, the wife of Mr. Najib, according to the suits.

Ms. Rosmah received in early 2014 a 22-carat pink diamond necklace from Lorraine Schwartz worth $27.3 million, allegedly arranged by Mr. Low and paid for with money stolen from 1MDB, according to the suit. Later that year, Mr. Low arranged for Ms. Rosmah to get a further $1.3 million worth of gold necklaces from Lorraine Schwartz. A spokesman for Ms. Rosmah didn’t respond to requests for comment.

U.S.’s Latest Target in 1MDB Probe: Leo DiCaprio’s Art, Miranda Kerr’s Jewelry
June 15, 2017 – WSJ


More than US$4.5 BILLION allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB – DOJ



Call for probe into claims that Anwar’s prosecutor got money from Najib

Call for an independent prosecutor to be appointed to probe into claims that Anwar’s prosecutor got money from Najib

I fully support PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s call for Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, the lawyer who successfully led the prosecution that secured his sodomy conviction, to be investigated.

Anwar made the call after allegations emerged that Shafee received RM9.5 million from the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in two tranches – on Sept 11, 2013, and on Feb 17, 2014.

Anwar said: “The claim by Sarawak Report that RM9.5 million of SRC International Sdn Bhd funds were transferred from Najib’s personal bank account to Shafee’s personal bank account is very serious.

“This matter urgently needs to be investigated by the authorities. What is the purpose of Najib transferring such large amount of funds to the personal bank account of a private lawyer who the Najib administration appointed to handle my prosecution?”

The Prime Minister or the Attorney-General should firstly disclose how much Shafie had cost the government and the taxpayers for engaging Shafie to lead the prosecution team against Anwar, firstly, at the Court of Appeal and secondly, at the Federal Court, when this was the task of the Attorney-General. What were the special or extraordinary circumstances justifying the appointment of Shafee as prosecutor for Anwar’s case.

The Court of Appeal on March 7, 2014, overturned the decision of the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, which acquitted Anwar, and sentenced him to five years’ imprisonment. The Federal Court on Feb 10, 2015, upheld the Court of Appeal’s conviction of Anwar.

Malaysians are entitled to know whether Najib’s RM9.5 million payment to Shafie had anything to do with the two Anwar appeal cases at the Court of Appeal and the Federal Court.

Furthermore, the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Mohamad Apani should appoint an independent prosecutor to probe into claims that Anwar’s prosecutor got money from Najib, and the integrity of Anwar’s charge, trial and imprisonment.

Call for an independent prosecutor to be appointed to probe into claims that Anwar’s prosecutor got money from Najib
3 June 2017 –

Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?