Malaysian Authorities Must Treat Grave US Department of Justice Allegations with Utmost Seriousness and Undertake an Immediate Inquiry
The Malaysian Bar is deeply disturbed by the grim disclosures contained in the complaint filed by the United States Department of Justice (“DOJ”) “to forfeit assets involved in and traceable to an international conspiracy to launder money misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MDB”)…” The DOJ has made serious allegations of siphoning or diversion of funds, fraud, and the misuse of the banking system for illegal activities, by the individuals and entities named in the complaint.
Various persons have in the past weeks sought to interpret the DOJ’s 136-page complaint. It is appalling that some have deliberately set out to distort the proceedings, and have attempted to create confusion, ostensibly to protect wrongdoers. In the interest of upholding the rule of law and the cause of justice, the thrust, purpose and ramifications of the DOJ proceedings must be appreciated.
The legal proceeding commenced by the DOJ seeking the forfeiture of assets — including rights to profits, moveable assets and real property — constitute a civil action. These assets, located primarily, but not exclusively, in the United States, are alleged to be proceeds from criminal conduct. The DOJ maintains that this is the largest single asset seizure action ever brought under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.
The DOJ’s court document states that the assets to be forfeited represent “a portion of the proceeds of over [US]$3.5 billion misappropriated from 1MDB.” It has been reported that the United States authorities intend “to recover more than [US]$1 billion that was laundered through the United States and traceable to the conspiracy.” In this regard, it would appear from the court document that the United States authorities possess comprehensive knowledge of the movement of the alleged misappropriated funds, have sighted relevant documentary evidence, and even reviewed telephone conversations. The substance, depth and reach of the allegations are compelling, and should not be ignored. The affected parties will have the opportunity to challenge the DOJ’s action in court, hence the process is transparent and adheres to the principles of natural justice. Read more