Putrajaya seeking prohibition order against 1MDB funds amounting to RM1.45b in the UK

Lawyer Budiman Lutfi Mohamed addresses reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court July 14, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
Lawyer Budiman Lutfi Mohamed addresses reporters at the Kuala Lumpur High Court July 14, 2020. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, July 14 — The hearing for an application filed by the government seeking funds in excess of US$340 million (RM1.45 billion) currently in the United Kingdom, allegedly linked to monies siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), will go up for hearing this Thursday morning.

The application, which named Tarek Obaid, PetroSaudi International Ltd, PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) Ltd, the Clyde and Co legal firm, and Temple Fiduciary Services Limited as the respondents, is seeking a prohibition order against the said funds that currently sits within an escrow account under the custody of Clyde and Co.

Court documents sighted by Malay Mail detailed the chronology and the believed source of the funds, which according to Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Mohd Afiq Ab Aziz can be traced back to agreements and transactions that took place as a result of a joint venture between PetroSaudi International Ltd and 1MDB between 2009 and 2011.

The affidavit, as submitted by Mohd Afiq, said the money the government seeks is part of an award settlement resulting from arbitration proceedings between PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) and Venezuelan state-owned oil company Petróleos de Venezuela.

Tarek is the co-founder of PetroSaudi International Ltd, and is the parent company of PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela).

He is said to also own accounts named under Temple Fiduciary Services.

Mohd Afiq had in his affidavit detailed that MACC investigations showed that the resulting fallouts and failed projects between the two Venezuelan outfits led them to escalate their dispute to the Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom.

In January 2017, he said the courts had ruled in the favour of PetroSaudi Oil Services (Venezuela) with Clyde and Co appointed as an escrow agent to the arbitration proceedings, and custodian to the funds amounting to US500 million (RM2.13 billion) in total.

“In the circumstances and in order to maintain status quo, I verily state that it is integral that the monies and accounts, which I reasonably suspect are or represents, the subject-matter or evidence relating to the offence of money laundering under subsection 4(1) of the AMLATFPUAA, be secured as a matter of urgency so as not to risk dissipation and consequently, leaving 1MDB and, or, the government of Malaysia without recourse,” he wrote in the affidavit filed to court last Friday.

The affidavit also included its intent to raise and seek an urgent resolution, as Mohd Afiq stated that investigations showed the Clyde and Co had recently applied for consent from the UK’s National Crime Agency to utilise part of the funds within the escrow account, for the benefits of the PetroSaudi and, or, Tarek.

Speaking at the High Court here today, Deputy Public Prosecutor Budiman Lutfi told reporters that their application for a prohibition order is seeking an exact amount of US$340,258,246.87, which was applied for under Section 53 of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001.

Budiman explained that in the event the prohibition order is granted, the ruling would be transmitted to their UK counterparts through the stipulated diplomatic channels and under the Mutual Legal Assistance treaty.

“Then the order needs to be registered in the UK courts, and it is then up to them to enforce it.

“Our application for the prohibition order is against the US340-odd million dollars which is currently held in a trust account by Clyde and Co.

“We were not party to the arbitration, we are only interested in the monies which are currently held by them; which is traceable to 1MDB,” he said.

He then clarified that once the order has reached the UK courts, it will have to be filed as a fresh application there, with the outcome down to the discretion of the judges there.

He added that even if our local court grants the application, the decision made by the UK judges is out of their hands.

“No, not set in stone,” he said when asked if he expects the courts there to automatically approve Malaysia’s request for the funds.

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