KUALA LUMPUR • Malaysia aims to recover US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) in funds misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) from various countries, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday.
He was commenting on a Bloomberg report that he has reached out to at least six countries for help in tracking down and recouping funds believed to have been siphoned from the state fund.
"I think they (the various countries) know it is our money, so they will give it back. Singapore will also give back our money. We are hoping to get back US$7 billion," said Tun Dr Mahathir.
According to Bloomberg, the US authorities will this month return US$200 million stolen from 1MDB, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter said.
The US Department of Justice has said over US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB, a state fund founded by former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
The tranche of money being returned by the United States includes US$140 million from the sale of a stake in New York's Park Lane Hotel, after it was given up by fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, the sources said.
Low, the alleged mastermind behind the looting of 1MDB, is wanted by the Malaysian authorities to face criminal charges. He has denied wrongdoing and his whereabouts are unknown.
The sources said the remaining money is the US$60 million from Red Granite Pictures, co-founded by Najib's stepson Riza Aziz, which agreed in March last year to pay the US government to settle a civil lawsuit over allegations that 1MDB money was used to finance the film, Wolf of Wall Street.
Separately, the Singaporean authorities are preparing to return about $35 million surrendered by former Goldman Sachs Group banker Roger Ng and his family in connection with the 1MDB scandal, according to people familiar with the matter.
A Singaporean court in recent weeks cleared the way for the funds to be repatriated, said the people.
A court order was granted on March 21 to repatriate about $35 million of "seized 1MDB-related monies to the rightful owner, 1MDB", Singapore police said in an e-mail reply to Bloomberg News.