JOHOR BAHRU: Malaysia will make a claim over 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) assets in the United States following a settlement by the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) involving the recovery of the fund's assets.
Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday (Oct 31) that part of the 1MDB money had been used by Jho Low to buy assets in America, estimated to be worth US$600 million.
Low has decided not to contest against the DoJ.
“He (Jho Low) has now surrendered ... Therefore, DoJ now holds and freezes the assets that were bought with Malaysian money.
“We had proof he is using Malaysia’s money to buy the asset and we will now make a claim (over the 1MDB assets) to the American government,” Dr Mahathir said.
In a statement on Thursday, DoJ said it had reached a settlement to recover more than US$700 million worth of assets acquired by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and his family using funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.
DoJ said the assets were located in the US, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
Low has agreed to give up a private jet, high-end real estate in Beverly Hills, New York and London, and other assets, the Justice Department said in a statement and court document filed on Wednesday.
That is on top of a US$126-million yacht and US$140 million in other assets that were previously forfeited. If approved, the settlement will mark the largest civil forfeiture ever concluded by the Justice Department, it said.
The deal does not include an admission of guilt or wrongdoing and is not tied to the criminal action against Low.
READ: Malaysia aims to recover nearly US$1 billion paid out by former 1MDB unit
"WE HAD TO SELL ASSETS": DR MAHATHIR
Commenting on whether the prime minister is responsible for making decisions over selling and the disposal of the government's strategic assets, Dr Mahathir said: “I am the chairman of Khazanah Nasional, so in a way, I am involved.”
“We had to sell assets because the previous government lost a huge sum of money which we had to pay,” he added.
Dr Mahathir said that these strategic assets were sold through a proper channel, which had gone through the tender process and had good prices offered by bidders.
In May, the US began returning US$200 million to Malaysia following the sale of 1MDB-linked assets.
1MDB is the subject of corruption and money laundering investigations in at least six countries.