Federal authorities are getting ready to seize more than $1 billion worth of assets purchased with money from a scandal-plagued Malaysian government investment fund.
The seizure would be the largest in U.S. history and the government’s first formal action in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Bhd., known as 1MDB, a sovereign-wealth fund set up by Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Wall Street Journal reported. Federal prosecutors are expected to file civil lawsuits on Wednesday seeking to seize the assets, which have not yet been identified and were allegedly bought with dirty money.
Officials believe that the prime minister’s stepson, Riza Aziz, used the fund to buy at least $50 million worth of luxury real estate in New York City and Los Angeles. Aziz, a producer on the film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” allegedly diverted $33.5 million from the fund to buy a luxury duplex at 15 West 63rd Street and another $17.5 million for a mansion in Beverly Hills. He also allegedly used the fund to help pay for the film.
Singapore and Switzerland have already brought action related to 1MDB this year. Actions by U.S. regulators are expected to potentially threaten the country’s relationship with Malaysia, the newspaper reported. [WSJ] — Kathryn Brenzel