The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) said whatever information it has released regarding its 1Malaysia Development Bhd civil lawsuits are based on details that it believes can be upheld in court.
However, it also cautioned that one should not draw any conclusions about the guilt or innocence of anyone simply because they had been named in the documents.
The DoJ told Malaysiakini via email: “The law requires we allege sufficiently detailed facts to establish a reasonable belief that we will prevail at trial.
“This means we have to allege enough facts to show a reasonable belief that United States money laundering and other criminal laws were violated and that the subject assets were involved in or traceable to these illegal transactions.
“In addition, the complaint provides sufficient details to specifically identify the property subject to forfeiture and to clarify the basis of the government’s case should anyone with a valid claim wish to challenge our case. Identifying persons and entities aids that function.”
Malaysiakini said the DoJ was responding to the statement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan that the DoJ had insinuated at Rosmah Mansor, the prime minister’s wife, by linking her to diamonds allegedly bought using cash misappropriated from 1MDB, even though it had no intention to seize the jewellery.
The DoJ added: “No conclusions should be drawn, one way or another, about the status of individuals or entities simply because they are named in the documents.”
The DoJ in a new court filing in California last week said a total of US$4.5 billion (about RM19 billion) was allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB.
It is seeking to seize US$1.7 billion (RM7.3 billion) worth of assets in the US and elsewhere, which it says were bought with the money stolen from 1MDB. It intends to later return the money to Malaysia.
The DoJ’s latest court filings allege that the wife of “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1) was gifted about US$30 million worth of jewellery by Malaysian financier Jho Low.
The DoJ says Jho Low is a central figure in the 1MDB scandal.
The DoJ told Malaysiakini it was not seeking to seize the jewels gifted to the wife of “MO1”.
Abdul Rahman had last year said MO1 was in fact Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Najib and 1MDB have consistently denied any wrongdoing. Malaysian ministers and the 1MDB management have said no money had been misappropriated from 1MDB.
In fact, attorney-general Mohamad Apandi Ali last year cleared Najib of any wrongdoing.
Low, too, claims he is innocent.
In its latest statement, the DoJ said it was seeking the forfeiture and recovery of approximately US$540 million in assets “associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund”.
It said, combined with civil forfeiture complaints filed in July 2016, seeking more than US$1 billion, and civil forfeiture complaints filed last week seeking approximately US$100 million in assets, this case represents the largest action brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. Assets now subject to forfeiture in this case total almost US$1.7 billion.
The DoJ statement quoted acting assistant attorney-general Kenneth A Blanco as saying: “This money financed the lavish lifestyles of the alleged co-conspirators at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people. We are unwavering in our commitment to ensure the United States is not a safe haven for corrupt individuals and kleptocrats to hide their ill-gotten wealth or money, and that recovered assets be returned to the victims from which they were taken.”
It also quoted acting US attorney Sandra R Brown of the Central District of California as saying: “These cases involve billions of dollars that should have been used to help the people of Malaysia, but instead was used by a small number of individuals to fuel their astonishing greed.
“The misappropriation of 1MDB funds was accomplished with an extravagant web of lies and bogus transactions that were brought to light by the dedicated attorneys and law enforcement agents who continue to work on this matter.
“We simply will not allow the United States to be a place where corrupt individuals can expect to hide assets and lavishly spend money that should be used for the benefit of citizens of other nations.”