Seized 1MDB assets must be safely returned to the Malaysian people

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat

The value of assets recovered in the civil forfeiture case between the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and Jho Low should be returned to Malaysia in a transparent and accountable manner that ensures it benefits the Malaysian people, Transparency International said today.

On 30 October, DOJ announced that assets worth more than US$700 million located in the US, UK and Switzerland had been recovered from Low, his family and a trust located in the Cayman Islands. The assets were allegedly purchased with funds embezzled from 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), the country’s development fund, and laundered through financial institutions in several jurisdictions.

Dr Muhammad Mohan, President of Transparency International Malaysia, said: “1MDB was intended to benefit the people of Malaysia, but more than US$4.5 billion of its wealth appears to have been embezzled – much of it spent on luxury goods and property around the world. While we are grateful to the US Department of Justice for pushing to recover these assets, we sincerely hope that Malaysian civil society will be included in the process of returning them to Malaysia and monitoring their use. There should be no chance of the returned funds being stolen again. We also hope that any corrupt officials who misappropriated funds from 1MDB will face criminal charges in all relevant jurisdictions.”

Principles 4 and 10 of the asset return principles agreed at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery, hosted by the United States and United Kingdom in 2017, call for transparency and accountability and inclusion of non-governmental stakeholders in the return of assets confiscated in corruption cases.

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