U.S. lawsuits link Malaysian leader to stolen money from 1MDB fund
By Rozanna Latiff and Joseph Sipalan
KUALA LUMPUR/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Thursday judgment should be withheld until all the facts are known after the U.S. government filed lawsuits seeking to seize $1 billion in assets bought with money stolen from a state fund he oversaw.
The U.S. Justice Department lawsuits filed in a federal court on Wednesday did not name Najib, instead referring to "Malaysian Official 1." Some of the allegations against this official were the same as those in a Malaysian investigation into a $681 million transfer to the premier's personal bank account.
The lawsuits said $681 million from a 2013 bond sale by sovereign wealth fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) was transferred to the account of "Malaysian Official 1".
A source familiar with the investigation confirmed that "Malaysian Official 1" was Najib.
In Malaysia, the hashtag #MalaysianOfficial1 was trending on Thursday.
The civil lawsuits said that a total of $3.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, a fund Najib established in 2009 and whose advisory board he chaired.
No criminal charges have been filed.
Swiss authorities said on Thursday that, acting on a U.S. request, they had seized three valuable paintings, by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, connected to the 1MDB inquiry. A Swiss Federal Office of Justice spokeswoman said, "The operation is not over yet so we will not comment at the moment on the location of the paintings." Continued...