Malaysia says it recovered $5m of stolen 1MDB assets over last 13 months

The Southeast Asian nation is trying to recover billions of dollars investigators say were stolen from the state fund.

Protesters marching in Malaysia over the 1MDB scandal. They are wearing yellow T-shirts, One is carrying placard showing a caricature of Najib beneath the words 'bapak kleptokrasi' (father of kleptocracy)
The 1MDB scandal led to mass protests against then-Prime Minister Najib Razak [File: Mohd Rasfan/AFP]

Malaysia has announced the recovery of property and other assets from 1MDB, the state fund at the centre of a multibillion-dollar corruption scandal across multiple countries and jurisdictions.

The latest recoveries, which took place from 2023 until this month, are worth more than 23.9 million ringgits ($5m), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) said in a statement on Thursday.

They followed the trial and conviction of former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng who was jailed by a New York court last year for his role in the scandal.

The scale of the corruption at the fund, which was established to boost economic development, fuelled a backlash against the government of then-Prime Minister Najib Razak that saw his party lose power for the first time in Malaysian history in elections held in 2018.

The MACC said the latest recoveries came from a former 1MDB employee as well as through voluntary surrender by five individuals, including 4.55 million ringgits ($954,679) from Amhari Effendi, a former special officer to Najib.

The authorities also seized three condominium units worth 7.05 million ringgits ($1.5m) from Mohammad Kamal Yahya, who was a foreign affairs adviser to Najib, as well as assets in Malaysia and Singapore worth 11.75 million ringgits ($2.5m) from associates of Jho Low, the Malaysian financier who is now a fugitive.

Ng was jailed for 10 years in the United States but was allowed to return to Malaysia to assist authorities in their investigations and to recover more of the money that was lost.

Investigators in the US and Malaysia estimate at least $4.5bn were stolen from 1MDB and instead used to finance luxury lifestyles and the production of the Hollywood movie The Wolf of Wall Street.

Najib was jailed in August 2022 in the first of multiple cases related to the scandal, becoming the first Malaysian prime minister ever to be put behind bars.

Last week, Malaysia’s pardons board announced that his 12-year sentence in that case had been halved and his fine slashed from 210.5 million ringgit ($44.2m) to 50 million ringgit ($10.5m), in a decision that was greeted with dismay by many Malaysians.

Source: Al Jazeera