KUALA LUMPUR • A Singapore court ordered the return to Malaysia of about $15.3 million, a portion of the total cash and assets seized in the city-state as part of an investigation into transactions linked to scandal-hit state fund 1MDB, lawyers for the fund and the Malaysian government said yesterday.
Singapore is among at least six countries investigating claims that about US$4.5 billion (S$6.2 billion) was siphoned from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a fund founded by former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak.
In 2016, the Singapore authorities said they had seized $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 retur-ning the funds to the Malaysian government, and the Singapore State Courts' 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 $15.3 million recovered is the first phase of the ongoing efforts to recover funds that were unlawfully misappropriated from the 1MDB and/or SRC Interna-tional group of companies," it said in a statement.
"Millions more are expected to be recovered in time," it added.
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 said.
Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng thanked the Singapore court for its decision, and said he hoped it would be "the beginning of more to come".
"After all, the sum of these monies is only (the) tip of the iceberg to be returned relating to 1MDB," Mr Lim said in a statement.
Singapore is one of several countries, including the United States and Switzerland, which have launched their own probes into the scandal, with the city-state focusing its investigation on the use of its financial system to launder stolen 1MDB money.
Singapore has taken action against several banks and bank officials over transactions related to 1MDB, including the closure of units of BSI Bank and Falcon Bank.
The city-state has also jailed a Swiss banker and three Singaporean private bankers following its investigation.
The 1MDB scandal contributed to the shock election defeat of Najib in May. Since his election defeat, the former leader has been arrested and charged over the scandal, but is out on bail.
He has denied any wrongdoing.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE