The Department of Justice announced Wednesday it has reached a settlement to recover more than $49 million in assets associated with the international money laundering and bribery scheme involving Malaysia’s state development fund 1MDB.
1MDB was created by the government of Malaysia to promote economic development in Malaysia through global partnerships and foreign direct investment, and its funds were intended to be used for improving the well-being of the Malaysian people. That, however, has not been the case. According to the Department of Justice, more than $4.5 billion in funds belonging to 1MDB were allegedly misappropriated by high-level officials of 1MDB and their associates through a criminal conspiracy involving international money laundering and bribery from 2009 through 2015.
The 1MDB scandal also embroiled Goldman Sachs, which disclosed in 2018 it had received subpoenas and requests for documents and information from various governmental and regulatory bodies and self-regulatory organizations as part of investigations and reviews relating to financing transactions involving 1MDB. According to Goldman, “subsidiaries of the firm acted as arrangers or purchasers of approximately $6.5 billion of debt securities of 1MDB.”
On Wednesday, the Justice Department said it had reached a settlement of its civil forfeiture cases against assets acquired by Khadem al-Qubaisi, the former managing director of Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company, who used funds allegedly misappropriated from 1MDB and laundered through financial institutions in several jurisdictions, including the United States, Switzerland, Singapore, and Luxembourg.
Under the terms of the settlement, the Atlantic Property Trust, which oversees the assets at issue in these forfeiture actions, agreed to forfeit all assets subject to pending forfeiture complaints in which they have a potential interest. The trustee—the wife of al-Qubaisi—must also cooperate and assist the Justice Department in the orderly transfer, management, and disposition of the relevant assets. The assets subject to the settlement agreement include the sale proceeds of high-end real estate acquired in Beverly Hills, as well as a luxury penthouse in New York City that al-Qubaisi allegedly acquired with funds traceable to misappropriated 1MDB monies.
The assets being forfeited subject to this settlement are in addition to the more than $1 billion in assets the United States previously forfeited in connection with the Justice Department’s 1MDB investigation. Several civil forfeiture complaints arising out of the 1MDB criminal conspiracy remain pending against assets associated with other alleged co-conspirators.
With the conclusion of this settlement, together with the prior disposition of other related forfeiture cases, the United States will have recovered or assisted in the recovery of nearly $1.1 billion in assets associated with the 1MDB international money laundering and bribery scheme. This represents the largest recovery to date under the department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and the largest civil forfeiture ever concluded by the Justice Department.