Malaysia fines Najib's brother, others for receiving 1MDB funds

Malaysia fines Najib's brother, others for receiving 1MDB funds

Nazir Razak file photo
File photo of Nazir Razak. (Photo: Reuters/Olivia Harris)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has fined the brother of former prime minister Najib Razak and other people and companies for allegedly receiving money from state fund 1MDB, the country's anti-graft chief said on Monday (Oct 7). 

Malaysian and US investigators say about US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), set up in 2009 by Najib.

Najib, who lost a general election last year, is now facing dozens of graft and money laundering charges over allegations that he received about US$1 billion in 1MDB funds. He has pleaded not guilty.

Latheefa Koya, the head of Malaysia's Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), told reporters the agency was aiming to recover RM420 million (US$100 million) from individuals and entities who had allegedly received funds laundered through accounts linked to Najib.

"We have issued compound notices against all of these people and entities for the purpose of them to pay up the fine," Latheefa said, adding that they could be fined up to 2.5 times the amount received.

The individuals include Najib's brother Nazir Razak, the former chairman of Malaysia's second-largest bank, CIMB, and Shahrir Abdul Samad, former chairman of state palm oil agency Felda.

READ: Malaysia aims to recover nearly US$1 billion paid out by former 1MDB unit 

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Nazir had received about RM25.7 million in cheques, from 1MDB, Latheefa said.

A spokeswoman for Nazir did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shahrir declined to comment.

Funds were also distributed to companies, political parties and organisations linked to Najib's coalition, a list provided by the MACC showed.

"It's not exhaustive, we have more," Latheefa said, adding that investigations have been opened into the 80 entities and people.

In 2015, Nazir went on a leave of absence after the Wall Street Journal reported that he received around US$7 million from Najib and disbursed the funds to other politicians before elections in 2013.

An independent review into the money transfer concluded that Nazir did not misuse his position and there was no inappropriate use of the CIMB’s resources, following which Nazir resumed his duties as chairman. He resigned last year after three decades at the bank.

Nazir had received about RM25.7 million in cheques, Latheefa said. She declined to confirm whether these were the same funds that Nazir had allegedly received in 2013.

READ: At start of 1MDB trial, prosecution paints a tale of excess and abuse

After winning last year's election, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's administration has reopened 1MDB probes, charged dozens of high-ranked officials, and filed civil forfeiture actions in a bid to recover money linked to 1MDB.

Since 2016, the US Department of Justice has filed forfeiture lawsuits on about US$1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds, including a private jet, luxury real estate and jewellery.

In May, the United States began returning to Malaysia about US$200 million recovered from the sale of seized assets.

Source: Reuters