Singapore says it is returning US$40 million to Malaysia seized in connection with the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal that helped topple the corruption-laden government of former prime minister Najib Razak.
The Lion City is one of several countries that launched probes into the troubled sovereign wealth fund.
Singapore’s Commercial Affairs Department said it had filed applications to return around US$40 million of seized cash linked to 1MDB to Malaysia.
The US Department of Justice said around US$4.5 billion was stolen from the investment fund established by Najib.
The former prime minister is currently being tried for seven money laundering and criminal breach of trust charges over RM42 million in SRC International, a subsidiary of 1MDB.
The trial is scheduled to run until August 16.
The Malaysian High Court had ruled that Najib will be tried for corruption over 1MDB on August 19, regardless of whether his SRC International trial has been completed.
Singapore’s investigations into 1MDB centred on claims its financial system was used to launder stolen funds.
It has jailed a Swiss banker and three Singaporean traders over the 1MDB scandal.
It has also closed the Singaporean branches of two Swiss banks, which were allegedly used to transfer 1MDB funds, over what regulators said were massive lapses in financial controls.
A Malaysian court has allowed the seizure of US$11.6 million in assets from the father of the chief 1MDB suspect, the 37-year-old fugitive trader Jho Low.
Low is rumoured to be in hiding in China although Beijing has repeatedly denied that it is harbouring him.
The court order is reportedly the first domestic forfeiture of assets linked to the fund.
The Malaysian Star reported that no one contested the forfeiture of the frozen assets.
The banker’s father, Low Hock Peng, who holds the title “Tan Sri” denoting a Malaysian sultan, did not attend the court hearing.
The police have issued an arrest warrant for him.
The Low family is prominent on the island of Penang and in March the authorities seized the family bungalow in exclusive Tanjung Bungah Park (pictured).
The fugitive Jho Low has said he will not return to face trial because he does not trust the Malaysian judiciary.
In an open letter, Low said the action against his family was “yet another example of the regime’s willingness to trample on due process to exact political reprisals”.
After Friday’s court decision, his spokesman said the legal proceedings were “preordained and politically motivated”, calling the seizure of his family’s assets a “shameful strategy of targeted harassment and willingness to abandon proper procedures”.
The “regime” of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, as Low called it, also seized some 18 million ringgit worth of cars, watches, handbags and cash from the family.
Tanjung Bungah in Penang. Picture credit: Wikimedia