The FBI said in its filing that individuals who would otherwise be willing to provide information were worried about putting themselves and their families at serious risk.
- Possible witnesses scared to talk for fear of retaliation
- People already assisting concerned for their safety
- Others say too dangerous to cooperate
- Shooting of former AG’s driver a possible warning to ex-AG not to cooperate with the US
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), possible witnesses to the alleged stealing of billions of dollars from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) are too scared to talk to US investigators because they fear retaliation, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
Some people in “certain foreign countries” already assisting the criminal probe are concerned for their safety, while others say it’s too dangerous to cooperate, the FBI said in a federal court filing in Los Angeles on Tuesday.
The report said that the FBI requested that the names of its informants be kept secret from the alleged masterminds of the 1MDB conspiracy.
Individuals who would otherwise be willing to provide information have told the government they’re worried about putting “the safety and security of both themselves and their families at serious risk,” the FBI said in its filing.
The FBI cited Malaysian news reports of local officials who have been detained because of their alleged role in investigating the 1MDB fraud.
As recently as Aug 30, Malaysian media reported that the driver of former Malaysian Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail was shot and wounded as a possible warning to the former prosecutor not to cooperate with the US, the FBI said.
Abdul Gani opened the initial 1MDB investigation, according to the FBI’s filing.
In 2015, he was replaced as attorney general by Mohamed Apandi Ali, who later cleared Najib of any wrongdoing with regard to 1MDB issues.
Last month, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) asked a judge to put on hold civil forfeiture lawsuits seeking more than $1 billion in assets in the US, UK, and Switzerland while it was carrying out a criminal investigation into funds siphoned from 1MDB.
The targeted assets were acquired by Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz and former managing director of Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co, Khadem al Qubaisi.
In response to the second round of forfeiture lawsuits, Low issued a statement in June saying that the US government was continuing “inappropriate efforts to seize assets despite not having proven that any improprieties have occurred.”
The trusts holding the assets on behalf of Low, Aziz, al Qubaisi and their families are contesting the forfeiture actions and oppose the request to put the civil cases on hold.
The Low trusts have asked the US to provide it with the identities of witnesses, sources of evidence and thousands of documents that are pertinent to the criminal investigation, according to the FBI.