[EXCLUSIVE] 1MDB funds scattered across the globe

ADIB POVERA and ILLAH HAFIZ AZIZ

KUALA LUMPUR: THOSE probing the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) case believe that most of the company’s more than RM20 billion that is unaccounted for, is being held by individuals scattered across the globe, including in the Middle East.

These individuals were supposed to have channelled the money back to Kuala Lumpur, allegedly for various purposes, including political funding.

However, sources said, the usual mode of transfer of the cash had to be reviewed as the authorities in several countries, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States, were on high alert for movements of monies that could be linked to 1MDB.

The authorities linked this lead to the US$12 million (RM49.4 million) that was traced to the office of the Malaysian External Investigation Organisation (MEIO). They believed about RM1 million of the money was brought in in US dollar through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in late April.

They believed that some personalities, including those now no longer with MEIO, had been serving as conduits in the movement of the money.

Their roles included serving as couriers of the cash.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had said that it planned to question some MEIO officers abroad to help with the probe. “Investigators believe that the monies belonging to 1MDB are hidden at undisclosed locations abroad.

“They are focusing on how the officers evaded detection when they brought in that amount of money,” one of the sources said, adding that 1MDB funds were also used for payouts to certain individuals, companies and media personalities for “political movements”. The New Straits Times on Thursday revealed that the authorities had strong grounds to believe that the alleged misappropriation of US$12 million was linked to 1MDB. MACC Deputy Chief Commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Azam Baki yesterday said the on-going investigation was to ascertain who was holding the balance of the money .

“MACC has new leads (into the case),” he said, declining to elaborate.

MACC had over the week picked up former head of the MEIO (formally known as the Research Department of the Prime Minister’s Department) Datuk Hasanah Abdul Hamid, 61. It picked up her deputy, along with six administrative and diplomatic services officers a day before. MACC had also arrested a 47-year-old “Datuk” in Kelantan to facilitate investigations into the case.

The businessman, according to sources, was a Malaysian but had permanent residency in the United Kingdom and owned a hotel there.

He was said to have links to one of the arrested MEIO officers.

The commission called in witnesses including three from abroad. It is looking for 20 others.

MACC said it might take two months to complete investigations into the case. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd