Malaysia fines Najib's brother, ex-ministers in 1MDB case

The individuals could face action under Malaysia's anti-money laundering act if they fail to pay the fines.

    The Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission is seeking to recover via fines up to $100m of 1MDB funds that had been laundered through politically linked people and entities [File: Olivia Harris/Reuters]
    The Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission is seeking to recover via fines up to $100m of 1MDB funds that had been laundered through politically linked people and entities [File: Olivia Harris/Reuters]

    Malaysia has fined 80 individuals and entities, including politicians and businesses, for allegedly receiving money from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the country's anti-graft chief said on Monday.

    The individuals include former Prime Minister Najib Razak's brother, Nazir Razak, who was chairman of Malaysia's second-largest bank CIMB until his resignation at the end of 2018.

    Former Malaysian trade minister Shahrir Abdul Samad, who was later the chairman of state palm oil agency Felda, and former deputy trade minister Ahmad Maslan were also issued compound notices.

    Latheefa Koya, the head of Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), told reporters on Monday that the agency was aiming to recover 420 million ringgit ($100m) from individuals and entities who had allegedly received funds laundered through accounts linked to Najib.

    Funds had also been distributed to companies, political parties and organisations linked to Najib's coalition, a list provided by the MACC and sighted by Al Jazeera showed.

    This included entities under the previous ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional, and component parties United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the Malaysian Chinese Association and the Malaysian Indian Congress.

    Malaysian and US investigators say about $4.5bn was misappropriated from 1MDB, set up in 2009 by Najib.

    "We have issued compound notices against all of these people and entities for the purpose of them to pay up the fine," Latheefa said, adding that they could be fined up to 2.5 times the amount received.

    She said that the largest single sum being asked for was 134 million ringgit ($32m) from an entity.

    Individuals who failed to pay their fines could face action against them by the MACC.

    Najib, who lost a general election last year, is now facing dozens of corruption and money laundering charges over allegations that he received about $1bn in 1MDB funds. He has pleaded not guilty.

    A spokeswoman for Nazir did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shahrir declined to comment.

    In 2015, Nazir went on a leave of absence after the Wall Street Journal reported that he received about $7m from Najib and disbursed the funds to other politicians before elections in 2013.

    An independent review into the money transfer concluded that Nazir did not misuse his position and there was no inappropriate use of the CIMB’s resources, following which Nazir resumed his duties as chairman. He resigned last year after almost three decades at the bank.

    Nazir had received about 25.7 million ringgit in cheques, Latheefa said. She declined to confirm whether these were the same funds that Nazir had allegedly received in 2013.

    After winning last year's election, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's administration has reopened 1MDB probes, charged dozens of high-ranked officials, and filed civil forfeiture actions in a bid to recover money linked to 1MDB.

    Since 2016, the US Department of Justice has filed forfeiture lawsuits on about $1.7bn in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds, including a private jet, luxury real estate and jewellery.

    In May, the United States began returning to Malaysia some $200m recovered from the sale of seized assets.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies