Singapore ordered RM45.9 million ($11.1 million) misappropriated from the scandal-hit 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) to be returned to Malaysia.
Singapore is among at least six countries investigating claims that about US$4.5 billion was syphoned off from 1MDB, a fund founded by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
The return of the funds comes more than three years after money laundering investigations into 1MDB started in Singapore, U.S. and other countries. The globe-spanning probe has gathered pace since Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad returned to power following his shock election victory in May.
Mahathir has said he is seeking to claw back $4.5 billion potentially lost from the fund. He also said wants the return of a US$35 million Bombardier Global 5000 jet parked in Singapore. The plane belongs to financier Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, described by investigators as a key character in the probe.
In 2016, Singapore authorities said they had seized S$240 million in cash and properties as a result of investigations into 1MDB-related fund flows through Singapore.
In May, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to cooperate on returning the funds to the Malaysian government, and the court order cleared the way for the first repatriation of funds from Singapore.
Tan, Rajah and Cheah, a Singapore-based law firm, said in a statement that the monies were recovered in various currencies from 1MDB and its former subsidiary, SRC International. The funds will be transferred to a special 1MDB recovery account in Kuala Lumpur.
“Efforts to recover other unlawfully misappropriated assets are ongoing,” the firm added, saying that the efforts include gathering evidence, tracking down witnesses and establishing a money trail of the stolen funds.
Singapore has taken action against several banks and bank officials for violating money-laundering controls over transactions related to 1MDB, including the closure of units of BSI Bank and Falcon Bank.
Sources: straitstimes.com, Bloomberg.com