Assembling a team of high-powered legal eagles, a veritable Who’s Who in litigation.
Legal Hall of Fame:
- Former US attorney-general John Ashcroft
- Star litigator David Boies – defending movie producer Harvey Weinstein against sexual abuse allegations
- Prosecutor of the Year (2013) Matthew Schwartz – led the Bernie Madoff largest Ponzi scheme in history investigation, and subsequently, lawyer of Red Granite Pictures who settled claims on future income from film rights with US DoJ seeking to seize assets linked to 1MDB
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has armed himself with a team of top American lawyers, possibly due to concern that the global probe into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) could soon implicate him, now that he’s no longer prime minister.
Ashcroft Law Firm, headed by former United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, has registered Najib as a client on the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) register.
FARA requires that agents representing the interests of foreign powers disclose their relationship with the foreign government and provide information about related activities and finances.
In a search by The Star, Najib’s name appeared in the FARA register as a “Foreign Principal”, with Ashcroft Law Firm named as the “Registrant” in two Exhibits dated March 28 and 29 this year.
In the document, it disclosed that the services provided by Ashcroft Law Firm were being financed by a “foreign government, foreign political party, or other foreign principal”.
It is unsure whether Najib will retain the services of Ashcroft Law Firm on the issue of the US Department of Justice (DoJ) probe on 1MDB.
Najib is no longer the head of “a foreign government” in US eyes, and therefore no longer enjoys full immunity from US legal action.
However, according to a Wall Street Journal report last year, Najib had hired the law firm to advise him on the 1MDB case back in 2016.
The Ashcroft Law Firm is a top-level concern that also represents the government of Qatar to rebut accusations from US President Donald Trump and its Arab neighbours that it supports terrorism.
According to The Malaysian Insight (TMI), Najib has also hired top American lawyer David Boies.
Boies previously represented the US government in its antitrust case against Microsoft.
He is also the defending movie producer Harvey Weinstein against sexual abuse allegations.
Sources told TMI that Najib had also allegedly hired prosecutor Matthew Schwartz.
Schwartz was named Prosecutor of the Year by the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation and now has a private practice.
He has handled several high-profile cases, including the investigation of Bernie Madoff, the king of Ponzi (get rich quick) schemes.
TMI claims that all of Najib’s lawyers are expected to meet him in Kuala Lumpur “soon”.
The DoJ launched a criminal probe and filed civil lawsuits seeking to recover about US$1.7bil (RM6.8bil) in assets, said to have been bought with stolen 1MDB funds.
This followed complaints alleging that more than US$4.5bil (RM18bil) was diverted from 1MDB and laundered through a web of shell companies and bank accounts located in the US and elsewhere.
The “Malaysian Official 1” (MO1) named in the DoJ civil suit refers to Najib, alleging that he had received some US$681mil (RM2.7bil) of 1MDB money, though he claimed to have returned most of it.
Since he was ousted as prime minister after Barisan Nasional lost in the 14th General Election, investigations into Najib’s involvement in the 1MDB scandal have been resuscitated in Malaysia.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has reopened their investigation into former 1MDB subsidiary SRC International, with the anti-graft agency wrapping up their questioning of Najib on May 24.
The MACC is also slated to question Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor on Tuesday (June 5).
The DoJ also announced that they will be cooperating with Malaysia in scrutinising 1MDB transactions. – The Star