Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has come under the scanner through investigations by the United States of fraud and embezzling money from his own people, a case that is the most severe that Malaysia has ever seen.
A fund, known as the 1MDB, was set up by the Prime Minister in 2009 as a means to raise funds and encourage investing in his country and boost the domestic economy.
However, Monday saw United States investigative authorities seek to seize assets worth over $1 billion related to the 1MDB fund.
US Attorney General Loretta Lynch claimed that there was sufficient evidence on hand to conclude that the fund had defrauded investors “on an enormous scale”.
The $1 billion being sought to be seized is around 1/3rd the total amount raised by the fund that has since been “diverted”.
Though Prime Minister Najib has not been named in the papers filed, he may have been mentioned in the papers under “Malaysian Official 1”.
So, how did 1MDB come under the scanner? The full form is: “1Malaysia Development Berhad”. It aimed at raising funds and investing in infrastructure projects with foreign companies, including Saudi Arabia. However, soon the company fell into debt that totalled over $11 billion, with repayments being missed.
As investigated by the United States, the funds were collected from the Malaysian public, then not used for the purposes intended and advertised. Instead, the sum of over $1 billion was misappropriated by Malaysian officials to feed their lavish lifestyles. The papers filed state that “Malaysian Official 1” (allegedly Prime Minister Najib) borrowed a sum of $731 million, though he returned $631 million.
So, how were the funds used? Allegedly, it was used to finance yachts, expensive holidays and a gambling trip with none other than Hollywood Oscar winner, Leonardo DiCaprio. The investigations also found that money meant for the fund was used to finance his movie, The Wolf Of Wall Street.
“Malaysian Official 1” isn’t the only one named in the papers. Other Malaysian officials named are: Prime Minister Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, Jho Low, Eric Tan, a UAE official and a United States citizen.