KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS, BLOOMBERG) - A Singapore court has ordered the return to Malaysia of about S$15.3 million (RM45.9 million), just a small portion of the total seized in the Republic as part of a probe into transactions linked to scandal-hit 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), lawyers for the state investment fund and the Malaysian government said on Monday (Sept 10).
Singapore is among at least six countries investigating claims that about US$4.5 billion was siphoned off from 1MDB, a fund founded by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
In 2016, Singapore authorities said they had seized S$240 million in cash and properties as a result of investigations into 1MDB-related fund flows through Singapore.
In May, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to cooperate on returning the funds to the Malaysian government, and the court order cleared the way for the first repatriation of funds from Singapore.
Tan, Rajah and Cheah, a Singapore-based law firm, said in a statement that the monies were recovered in various currencies from 1MDB and its former subsidiary, SRC International. The funds will be transferred to a special 1MDB recovery account in Kuala Lumpur.
"Efforts to recover other unlawfully misappropriated assets are ongoing," the firm added, saying that the efforts include gathering evidence, tracking down witnesses and establishing a money trail of the stolen funds.
The so-called disposal orders for the repatriation were handed down by the Singapore State Courts, according to the law firm's statement.
Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said he is seeking to claw back US$4.5 billion potentially lost from 1MDB. Malaysian investigators are collecting information with cooperation from foreign authorities including the US and Singapore to trace complex transactions that have spawned investigations in at least 10 countries.
Mahathir has said he wants the return of a US$35 million Bombardier Global 5000 jet parked in Singapore. The plane belongs to financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, described by investigators as a key character in the probe.
Low has consistently denied wrongdoing. Singapore said last month it hadn’t received a formal request from Malaysia for the return of the jet.
Singapore has taken action against several banks and bank officials for violating money-laundering controls over transactions related to 1MDB, including the closure of units of BSI Bank and Falcon Bank.