By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA – Malaysia on Tuesday said the United States has started returning funds of more than $57million in an assets seizure case.
According to Malaysian Attorney General Tommy Thomas, the funds are part of recovery from asset seizures related to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state fund founded by former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
"This was done under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative of the US Department of Justice (DoJ) with the sum transferred into the 1MDB asset recovery account, a segregated trust account, opened specifically for this purpose," Thomas said.
The authorities in Washington and Kuala Lumpur said about $4.5 billion were allegedly siphoned from 1MDB.
The Malaysian attorney general said that the amount arose from a $60 million settlement recorded before the Court of California.
"Malaysia has recovered $322 million worth of 1MDB assets since investigations into 1MDB effectively began after the 14th General Election in May 2018," Thomas added.
"1MDB asset recovery efforts across the globe are still ongoing, and Malaysia is optimistic of recovering [more funds] in the coming months," said Thomas.
Said to be one of biggest ever cases in its anti-kleptocracy program, the U.S. Justice Department has filed civil lawsuits seeking to seize about $1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds, including a private jet, luxury real estate, artwork, and jewelry.
The U.S. Justice Department also said in a statement Monday night that a Malaysian national, Ng Chong Hwa, 46, also known as "Roger Ng", was extradited from Malaysia to the U.S. to "face charges of conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled" from 1MDB besides other charges.
The Justice Department said that between 2009 and 2014, Ng conspired with others to launder billions of dollars misappropriated and fraudulently diverted from 1MDB, including funds 1MDB raised in 2012 and 2013 through three bond transactions 1MDB executed.