Malaysia's 1MDB task force meets US Department of Justice and FBI officers

The meeting at the Prime Minister's Office Complex in Putrajaya discussed the direction and focus of the probe on 1Malaysia Development Berhad. PHOTO: MALAYSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysia's special task force set up to look into the funds misappropriation scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has met officers from the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The meeting on Thursday morning (May 24) at the Prime Minister's Office Complex in Putrajaya discussed the direction and focus of the probe on 1MDB, according to a statement issued by the task force.

It also discussed "mutual legal assistance arrangements for criminal matters between the two countries and the processes for repatriating assets that have been frozen by the authorities in the United States".

The DOJ had in July 2016 filed civil suits seeking to seize US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) in assets in the US that were allegedly obtained using funds misappropriated from 1MDB, a state investment arm set up in 2009.

In its filings, the DOJ repeatedly referred to "Malaysian Official 1", a high-ranking government official who had control over 1MDB and had allegedly received US$681 million from the fund. "Malaysian Official 1" was later confirmed by a minister to be former premier Najib Razak.

Datuk Seri Najib has denied the allegations and was previously cleared of any wrongdoing by the Malaysian authorities.

Among the matters raised on Thursday was the DOJ's request in September 2017 to Malaysia's Attorney-General Apandi Ali for mutual legal assistance with regard to the 1MDB case. The request however remained unfulfilled and was delayed on the basis that it would interfere with the investigations being carried out by the Malaysian authorities.

"The DOJ and the FBI recorded their highest appreciation for the cooperation of the Malaysian government under the leadership of the new Prime Minister," said the statement.

The parties agreed to work closely to complete their investigations into the state fund.

The renewed probe into 1MDB and Mr Najib's role in the scandal comes after the shock May 9 election defeat of the Barisan Nasional coalition, formerly led by Mr Najib, after six decades in power.

Malaysia's new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has vowed to recover billions of dollars allegedly misappropriated from the fund.

He set up a special 1MDB task force comprising former A-G Abdul Gani Patail, former chief of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commmission (MACC) Abu Kassim Mohamed, current MACC chief Shukri Abdull and Special Branch director Abdul Hamid Bador.

Tan Sri Apandi, the current A-G, was instructed to go on leave and his duties have been taken over by the Solicitor-General. Meanwhile, Mr Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor have been barred from leaving the country.

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