US returns 300m dollars linked to Malaysian corruption scandal

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The U.S. has repatriated another 300 million dollars stolen from the corruption-stained Malaysian state development fund known as 1MDB, authorities said on Wednesday.

In total, 620 million dollars has been returned to Malaysia, money the U.S. Justice Department said was laundered through financial institutions in the U.S., Switzerland, Singapore, and Luxembourg.

The money is part of the 4.5 billion dollars that the department has described as “allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates.”

Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak, who was stopped by police from fleeing the country after losing the 2018 elections, is embroiled in the scandal.

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Najib, who was president of 1MDB’s advisory board during his tenure as prime minister, was accused of stealing more than 700 million dollars from the fund.

Najib said the money was a donation from Saudi Arabia, which Low Taek Jho, a self-styled financier better-known as Jho Low, helped arrange.

Najib’s corruption trials are on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing lockdown in place in Malaysia.

Current Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Wednesday that that Low had struck a deal with authorities in the U.S., where he has faced criminal charges.

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“Fugitive Jho Low had reached a settlement with the Department of Justice pertaining to numerous forfeiture claims filed … against assets he had purchased using 1MDB monies,” the prime minister said.

The Malaysian Finance Ministry said the assets included a stake in a hotel, a yacht, and money used to produce the film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which was made by a production company co-founded by Najib’s stepson.

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