Malaysia May Recover up to US$3.5B of 1MDB Funds

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Malaysia expects to recover as much as US$3.5 billion (RM14.4 billion) of funds potentially lost through 1MDB, said Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng.

The government may be able to regain at least 10 percent of the US$12.3 billion (RM50 billion) of funds that Lim estimated were embezzled from 1MDB, and up to 30 percent of the amount, “if we are lucky,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

This amount Lim is hopeful about recovering is lesser than the US$4.5 billion (RM18.29 billion) the government is seeking to recoup, according to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Lim’s admission puts into perspective the difficulty in tracing the numerous complex transactions spanning the globe that Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber called a “Ponzi scheme.”

The scandal surrounding 1MDB has spawned worldwide investigations in at least 10 countries, including Singapore and the US.

“We couldn’t locate, we couldn’t trace where the money went and what they purchased.

Ahmad Zamzahuri

“Those that we can trace, there’s also the question of ownership, due process as well as different national jurisdiction,” Lim said.

Malaysia hired Singapore-based law firm Tan Rajah & Cheah to help it recover the funds, while Swiss prosecutors pledged to return any stolen money to Malaysia.

The US Department of Justice is seeking to seize about US$1.7 billion in assets it says were illegally acquired through money diverted from 1MDB, including superyacht ‘Equanimity‘ seized by Indonesian police in July.