Just when you think the storm has been weathered, the spotlight is once again on the 1MDB scandal when the US Justice Department filed several lawsuits seeking to seize assets tied to misappropriated funds from 1MDB
On Wednesday, 20 July, the Justice Department filed several lawsuits seeking to seize more than USD1 billion (RM4.05 billion) worth of assets, all of which were a results of USD3.5 billion (RM14.16 billion) that was misappropriated from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a sovereign fund set up by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009.
The misappropriated funds were used to fund lavish lifestyles (e.g. hiring musicians and celebrities for parties), payment of gambling expenses, as well as the purchase of luxury property (mansions and apartments in Manhattan, Beverly Hills, and London), fine art (Van Gogh and Monet paintings), and jewelry.
“The Malaysian people were defrauded on an enormous scale,” said Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe at a news conference announcing the complaints. The asset seizure would be the largest ever by the Justice Department’s anticorruption unit.wsj.com
Several people were named in the lawsuit, including Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, financier Jho Low and his business associates, as well as several unnamed 1MDB officials. But one stood out in particular - "Malaysian Official 1".
According to a 136-page court document filed by the Justice Department, Malaysian Official 1 is described as "a high-ranking official in the Malaysian government who also held a position of authority with 1MDB". Furthermore, the individual "had the authority to approve all appointments to, and removals from, 1MDB’s Board of Directors and 1MDB’s Senior Management Team".
In addition, the court document states that Malaysian Official 1 is "the ultimate beneficiary of the AMPRIVATE BANKING-MR Account" which received payments totalling approximately USD681 million (RM2.6 bilion) in March 2013, confirmed by the Attorney General of Malaysia.
It was also added that Malaysian Official 1 is a relative of Riza Aziz and a friend of Jho Low.
Unsurprisingly, Malaysians had a field day with the #MalaysianOfficial1 hashtag on Twitter because GUYS. WHO THE HECK IS "MALAYSIAN OFFICIAL 1"?
Some jokingly owned up to the title, claiming part ownership to a USD35 million (RM141.56 million) Monet painting implicated in the lawsuits
Although it's already quite clear who it refers to...
You can't deny that the name sounds cooler than it's meant to be though. Great job, Justice Department!
For us Malaysians, it's like watching a super dramatic TV series come to life!
Well, there really is nothing left for us to do except to whip out the popcorn and enjoy the show...