1MDB money-laundering investigation gains new life with new prime minister


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Multiple countries allege massive money laundering of state funds

The long reach of the 1MDB money laundering scandal and allegations took a sharp turn recently when Malaysia elected a 92-year-old as its new prime minister. The election was a resounding defeat for Najib Razak, who has repeatedly been implicated in allegations related to the massive 1MDB scandal.

New Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has indicated that his government will pursue legal action and new investigations of the scandal-plagued 1MDB Fund. Currently, he is pressuring holdovers from the Najib regime to resign, especially those tied to tainted investigations.

Former prime minister Najib and his wife attempted to leave the country for what they described as an overseas trip to rest after the election defeat. The new prime minister, however, directed the nation’s immigration authorities to issue a travel banthat prevented Najib and his wife from leaving the country. Mahathir announced to the press that allegations of corruption leveled at Najib, who is believed to have enriched himself and his cronies on a massive scale during his leadership stint, will be investigated fully and the rule of law will obtain.

According to Reuters, the 1MDB fund is the subject of money laundering probes in at least six countries. The U.S., for example, alleges that nearly $4.5 billion was stolen from the fund, which was initially set up to fund large-scale municipal improvement projects in the country. Investigators believe that approximately $700 million of the stolen funds went directly to Najib.

A New York Times featureon the surprise election results report that “the United States Justice Department concluded that $3.5 billion from the Malaysian fund was laundered through financial institutions in the United States and spent on items like expensive real estate, jewelry, paintings and the production of movies, including ‘The Wolf of Wall Street.’ The assets include a $27.3 million diamond necklace received by Mr. Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, and a $3.2 million painting by Pablo Picasso that was given to the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.”


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