Selangor Journal

1MDB controversy returns to spice up New Zealand

SHAH ALAM, JAN 18: Revelations that there are trustees of assets allegedly owned by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) in New Zealand, has reheated controversy in the said country’s trustee industry.
NZ Herald reported that their Labour Party and Green Party believe that the 1MDB case shows that New Zealand’s statement of ‘no substantial evidence of illegal funds concealed in the country’, must be re-examined.
Labour Party Leader Andrew Little said that New Zealand appearing in the high-profile 1MDB controversy has tarnished the country’s reputation at an international level.
Earlier, the same report mentioned that controversial Malaysian businessman, Jho Low’s family members will be protesting against the NZ$230 million asset seizure in the High Court in Auckland, this Friday.
They claim to have direct ownership of the assets involved in the 1MDB investigation, which have been seized by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the United States (US) in middle of 2016.
NZ Herald said that New Zealand only entered the picture when the Low family complained to the US Court that the trustees did not challenge the writ order.
“The lawyer for the Low family had filed a motion requesting the New Zealand High Court to appoint a representative who is prepared to face DOJ.
“US had said that the trustees were afraid that failure of objecting to replace them might increase their risks of facing criminal charges in the US related to money laundering,” reported NZ Herald.
In the filing, the Low family had, among others, claimed that assets such as a Bombardier private jet, hotel in Beverly Hills and luxury home in Los Angeles valued at NZ$55 million are directly owned by several trustees in New Zealand.
On July 20, 2016, DOJ announced that a civil suit be filed to confiscate assets worth over US$1 billion, allegedly stolen through Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s brainchild company.
Till now, the 1MDB controversy reverberates in at least six other countries including US, Switzerland, Singapore and the latest, New Zealand.
At the same time, November 2017 saw Putrajaya denying a request from Switzerland for Mutual Legal Aid (MLA) to investigate corruption charges related to 1MDB.
However, Switzerland’s Attorney General Michael Lauber said that would not hinder their investigation as they are also collaborating with several other countries.
In January 2016, Lauber’s office had suspected corruption worth approximately US$4 billion in 1MDB, and claimed that a Ponzi scheme had probably been set-up to hide the US$800 million alleged fraud.
Swiss federal attorneys had initiated criminal charges on two Swiss banks and four unidentified individuals for their connections with 1MDB.
In November 2016, Singapore had also officially named Low as a key figure in the money laundering investigations related to the 1MDB fund.
Singaporean authority had frozen Low’s assets. However, the man aged 34, is not facing any charges in the investigation on 1MDB.
Najib, who had chaired the 1MDB advisory board, denies involvement in any misconduct and has expressed willingness to cooperate in any international investigation.

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