What The US Has Uncovered About 'Malaysian Official 1' And His Involvement In 1MDB
"We allege what we need to allege to obtain what we need to obtain."
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit to seize dozens of properties tied to 1MDB yesterday, 20 July
The Justice Department filed lawsuits to seize assets that it said were the result of USD3.5 billion that was misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd., or 1MDB, a fund set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009 to boost the Malaysian economy.
Among the Justice Department’s assertions: That some USD1 billion originating with 1MDB was plowed into hotels; luxury real estate in Manhattan, Beverly Hills and London; fine art; a private jet and the 2013 film 'The Wolf of Wall Street'.
Following the incident, the Internet has been abuzz with the 'Malaysian Official 1' phrase, especially after the lawsuit made reference to this mysterious figure on multiple occasions
The identity of 'Malaysian Official 1' is unknown but here are some hints left by the DOJ in its official lawsuit:
1. The first mention of 'Malaysian Official 1' was the person's role with 1MDB
2. 'Malaysian Official 1' is related to Riza Aziz, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor's son
3. 'Malaysian Official 1' held a position of authority with 1MDB
5. 'Malaysian Official 1' was allegedly involved in misappropriation of funds with the co-founder of PetroSaudi
The document explained the key details relating to the USD24.5 million of USD1.03 billion which was diverted from 1MDB to a Swiss bank account held in the name of Good Star Limited. It is believed that the account is owned by Jho Low.
The US24.5 million was "transferred to an account at Riyad Bank maintained in the name of a Saudi prince", who is believed to be the co-founder of PetroSaudi, a private Saudi Arabia-based oil services company incorporated in Saudi Arabia, which maintains offices in the United Kingdom.
The DOJ cited JP Morgan Chase banking records, saying that USD20 million of the USD24.5 million was then channelled into an account belonging to 'Malaysian Official 1' in 2011.
6. The following chart shows the funds that were transferred in and out of PetroSaudi co-founder's account
7. USD681 million was transferred into an AmBank account belonging to 'Malaysian Official 1' in March 2013
8. In October and November 2012, at least USD30 million of the USD1.367 billion raised in bonds by 1MDB for power purchase agreements were deposited into an account belonging to 'Malaysian Official 1'
The funds "were misappropriated and fraudulently diverted to bank accounts in Switzerland and Singapore".
The DOJ claims that funds were channelled to British Virgin Islands firm Aabar Investment PJS Ltd (Aabar-BVI), which deposited USD636 million into a Singapore bank account held by Blackstone Asia Real Estate Partners, controlled by Tan Kim Loong or also known as Eric Tan, an associate of Jho Low.
Out of this amount, USD30 million was allegedly transferred into Malaysian Official 1's account.
9. The DOJ spells out in details on how money was transferred from 1MDB, via Tanore Finance Corporation (Tanore Account) and into a bank account that belongs to 'Malaysian Official 1'
According to the suits, the amount allegedly came from a USD3 billion bond 1MDB raised to invest in a joint venture with Aabar, known as the Abu Dhabi Malaysia Investment Company (“ADMIC”).
From the bond, USD1.26 billion was diverted into an account belonging to Tanore Finance Corporation, which then pumped in the USD681 million to 'Malaysian Official 1'.
In August 2013, USD620 million was returned to Tanore's Singapore bank account, which DOJ claimed was owned by Tan, who was the recorded beneficial owner.
These funds from the bond were also allegedly used by Low and Tan to purchase artwork, and to purchase an interest in a luxury hotel in New York City "for his personal benefit".
10. 'Malaysian Official 1' is related to the investigations by Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi which concluded earlier this year
Meanwhile, US attorney general Loretta E Lynch has explained that 'Malaysian Official 1' has not been named because they would only "allege what we need to allege to obtain what we need to obtain"
She said the ultimate goal is to return the funds believed to have been misappropriated, an amount of about USD3 billion, to the people of Malaysia.
However, some of these funds have "dissipated" including through paying of gambling debts and "lifestyle expenses".
This is why the civil forfeiture had to be filed immediately despite the ongoing investigations, she explained.
Lynch said further delays could mean assets being transferred to other parties, making it more difficult to seize.
While DOJ has kept mum on the secret identity of 'Malaysian Official 1', many have been speculating that PM Najib Razak is in fact, the mysterious figure
Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported that "a person with direct knowledge of the investigation said 'Malaysian Official 1' is Najib."
It was noted that Najib is not named in the lawsuit, and no criminal charges were brought against him.
If you missed out on the announcement by US A-G Loretta E. Lynch on 20 July about the 1MDB lawsuits, here's a summary of the 35 minute-long press con in 14 major points: