MACC announces forfeiture lawsuits against 41 to recover RM270m of 1MDB money

MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya addresses a press conference at MACC headquarters in Putrajaya June 21, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May
MACC chief commissioner Latheefa Koya addresses a press conference at MACC headquarters in Putrajaya June 21, 2019. — Picture by Choo Choy May

PUTRAJAYA, June 21 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has filed 41 civil forfeiture suits to recover RM270 million belonging to 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that was dispersed from Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s AmBank account.

Its chief commissioner Latheefa Koya said the lawsuits were filed two days ago against individuals and entities including political parties like Umno.

“The MACC have succeeded in filing a forfeiture application under the Anti-Money Laundering Act to forfeit properties and monies that was dispersed or misused from 1MDB. For the time being we have identified 41 individuals or entities as respondents.

“We filed this in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur and we are set to recover at least RM270 million from monies given out to various individuals or entities. This includes political parties and Umno branches or divisions, companies and individuals,” she told a news conference at the MACC headquarters here today.

Latheefa added that Umno was the biggest recipient of the dispersed money as the former ruling party received more than RM200 million in multiple separate transactions at state and division levels.

She explained that though the application is filed under Section 56 of the Anti-Money Laundering Act (Amla), it is a civil forfeiture action as there are no criminal charges against the 41 entities or individuals who received the 1MDB money.

She added that the MACC is taking a pragmatic step in applying for a civil forfeiture as it would not have the time to criminally charge everyone who has received the 1MDB money.

“Yes, this isn’t criminal prosecution. If they give the money back, well and good. That is what we are focusing on. We have several people receiving the money and if we prosecute, that might take time.

“Since the law is clear and we have alternative ways to recover the money, we will use the most pragmatic way. But there will be cases that instead of just receiving money, there were elements of transferring the money for further laundering.

“We will take action against these cases,” she said, adding that the 41 respondents also have the right to challenge the MACC’s application but they should not use ignorance as an excuse as it does not stand under Amla.

The newly appointed anti-graft head also said that after the filing, two out of the 41 respondents had returned around RM2 million of the 1MDB money. However, she did not detail how the money was returned to the government.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex June 17, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Kuala Lumpur Court Complex June 17, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

Below were the details on the respondents provided in today’s news conference:

Of the 41 respondents, seven are private individuals, three are non-governmental organisations, five foundations, 12 companies and five political parties.

The seven individuals were named as: Ibrahim Awang Ismail, Kasitah Gaddam, Ismail Abd Mutalib, Hasan Malek, Sim Sai Hoon, Abdul Manan Ismail and Bustari Yusuf.

The three NGOs are: Pertubuhan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia, Akademi Pemuda and Gerakan Belia Gagasan 1Malaysia.

The five foundations are: Yayasan Permata Malaysia, Yayasan Tun Hussein Onn, Yayasan PBAKM, Yayasan Penyelidikan Transformasi and Yayasan Rahah.

The 12 companies are: Binsabi Sdn Bhd, Rayhar Travels Sdn Bhd, K&Z Enterprise Sdn Bhd, IPG Mediabrands Sdn Bhd, Media Edge CIA (M) Sdn Bhd, Hattatex Trading, Jakel Trading, Jakel Trading Sdn Bhd, Perano Sdn Bhd, AGA Touch (M) Sdn Bhd, Habib Jewels Sdn Bhd and Naza Quest Auto Sdn Bhd.

The five political parties are: Umno, MCA, Sarawak United People’s Party, Liberal Democratic Party Sabah and the Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah.

MCA was said to receive the money through its women’s wing Wanita MCA and through its Pahang State Liaison Committee.

For Umno, the states said to have received the 1MDB money are: Kelantan, Selangor, Kedah, Johor, Sabah and Pahang.

Najib’s Umno division in Pekan as well as the Johor Baru Barisan Nasional division were also said to have received a share of 1MDB money.

At the same time, Latheefa said around RM919 million of 1MDB have been returned to the government through the Ministry of Finance’s trust account.

The MACC chief said these were the proceeds included those from out of the country such as Red Granite and the sale of Park Lane assets worth RM130 million.

Red Granite Pictures was the US film production and distribution company founded by Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz and Hollywood hotshot producer Joey McFarland in 2010.

Park Lane refers to the upscale hotel in New York that was reported to have been sold last December to Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co.

* A previous version of this story contained errors which have since been corrected.