1MDB Scandal Intensifies

The following post comes from Sheri Kindel:

As reported by the Wall Street Journal, recent government investigations into 1MDB, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, have uncovered a money trail with funds ending up in Prime Minister Najib’s personal bank accounts in AmBank between March 2013 and February 2015. Najib, facing the risk of criminal charges, continues to deny taking funds from 1MDB for personal gain and claims this is an act of “political sabotage” by former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to remove him. 1MDB, now $11.1bn in debt, also denies providing any funds to Najib. Documents produced on the matter are the first evidence directly linking Najib to corruption surrounding the fund.

Funds flowed from SRC International Sbn Bhd, a company linked to 1MDB, into personal accounts of “Dato’Sri Mohd Najib Bin Hj Abd Razak” in Kuala Lumpur. The investigation also exposed a wire transfer of $620M from a Singapore branch of the Swiss Falcon Bank owned by an Abu Dhabi fund into Najib’s Kuala Lumpur bank account. This wire transfer occurred in March 2013 before the General Election and the signing of a joint venture between Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. Documents showed that Abu Dhabi never contributed financially to this partnership and the money was never returned to 1MDB when the project fell through in the development phase. Three other deposits were made into Najib’s various accounts and altogether, Najib received up to $700M.

These findings reach beyond Malaysia as it impacts many banks, including Wells Fargo Bank in New York. According to the documents, the wire transfers were handled through the International Branch of Wells Fargo. Regulators in Singapore, Switzerland, and now the United States are looking to increase money laundering regulations and more closely monitor suspicious transactions.