A man walks past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard in Kuala Lumpur, March 30, 2015. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Sunday, 04 Sep 2022 4:49 PM MYT
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) denied today a news report alleging it was circumventing investigations into some RM8 billion of stolen 1MDB money that has yet to be recovered from the Kuwaiti government.
The agency said it has held several rounds of talks with its Kuwaiti counterpart since 2020, when news about the frozen funds was first reported by whistleblower website Sarawak Report.
The news portal had alleged in a report published on August 25 that the probe by the Kuwaiti anti-money laundering authorities has been hugely frustrated “by a lack of Malaysian official cooperation” following the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government after two years of investigations.
It was announced recently that a court case will open on September 13 relating to the frozen cash, with three high-ranking Kuwaiti officials expected to be charged there later this month.
“The MACC would like to explain that the investigation is still actively ongoing,” the agency said in a statement.
“The MACC as the main party in the effort to recover (1MDB) assets stresses on action to retrieve assets/funds that were lost by the embezzlement of 1MDB and other related companies. Each move is made with the cooperation of foreign enforcement agencies that involves financial movements that are highly complex and intricate,” it added.
“At the moment the MACC is still awaiting statements from the Kuwaiti authorities requested through the Mutual Legal Assistance (programme). The request is still being studied by the Kuwaiti side.”
Sarawak Report reported that those to be charged are the powerful son of the former Kuwaiti prime minister who was in office when funds were secretly being looted from 1MDB, Sheikh Sabah Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah; his lawyer, Saud Abdelmohsan; and Hamad al Wazzan, an old college friend of the alleged 1MDB mastermind, Low Taek Jho, who is said to have connected the Malaysian billionaire to powerful figures in Kuwait.
According to local media, the three have been released on bail of 50,000 dinars (RM725,000) each after months of investigations.
Sarawak Report suggested it first alerted the Kuwait authorities and Malaysian public to the billions of ringgit in hidden cash based on information by whistleblowers who have faced harassment after falling foul of the corrupt officials and Sheikh Sabah.