Singapore is returning to Malaysia almost $40m seized in connection with a massive financial scandal that played a major role in the toppling of the government of former Prime Minister Najib Razak, police said.
The Southeast Asian country is one of several jurisdictions that launched probes into allegations that billions of dollars were misappropriated from Malaysian state investment fund One Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) in an elaborate ruse that stretched from Asia to the United States.
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The scandal – allegedly involving Najib, his family members and inner circle – played a key role in the defeat of his long-ruling coalition at the polls last year.
Singapore police said their commercial affairs department had filed applications to return to Malaysia around 50.3 million Singapore dollars ($37m) of seized money linked to 1MDB, and the courts have given their approval.
“Part of the monies have already been transferred to Malaysia, while the rest are still being processed by the banks,” they said late on Thursday.
Police did not say where the money was seized from.
The US Department of Justice, which has been seizing assets in the US allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB money, believes that around $4.5bn were plundered from the fund.
Singapore’s investigations into 1MDB centred on allegations that its financial system was used to launder some of the stolen funds. The government has jailed a Swiss banker and three Singaporean private bankers for their roles in the affair.
It has closed the local branches of two Swiss banks, which were allegedly used to transfer illicit funds, for what regulators called massive lapses in financial controls.
Since his election defeat, Najib has been arrested over the scandal and went on trial in April.