Niall Hearty of financial crime specialists Rahman Ravelli details the latest stages of Malaysia's financial scandal.
The Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has begun legal attempts to recover $23 billion in assets lost to fraud.
The fund and its former unit SRC International have filed a total of 22 civil suits against people and organisations they believe were involved in the fraud. 1MDB has filed six suits against nine organisations and 25 people, alleging breach of contract, fraud, conspiracy and negligence. SRC has filed 16 suits against eight organisations and 15 people for similar offences.
Malaysia has already recovered assets worth almost $5 billion after reaching agreements with a number of financial institutions. It was paid almost £3 billion by Goldman Sachs and $80 million by Deloitte.
Investigations into 1MDB-related fraud are being conducted in at least six countries. The fund was created by then prime minister Najib Razak 12 years ago. Last year he was convicted of corruption and money laundering. He is appealing against his conviction. Businessman Low Taek Jho, known as Jho Low, is still being sought by authorities, who believe he orchestrated the fraud.
The civil suits that have been announced are just the latest chapter in a saga involving 1MDB, which was originally set up to promote Malaysia through foreign investment and partnerships. The spending of billions on art works, real estate, yachts and luxury goods – and even allegations that some of the money was used to fund the 2013 film about financial wrongdoing "The Wolf of Wall Street'' - has seen 1MDB become a byword for fraud.
These renewed efforts to recover assets and punish wrongdoing will be seen as a welcome move as the Malaysian government looks to recover from one of the biggest corruption scandals in the world and restore faith in its financial institutions.
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