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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Former Malaysia Prime Minister charged with money laundering

Financial Crimes DOJ Anti-Money Laundering

Financial Crimes

On August 8, Malaysia’s former Prime Minister pleaded not guilty to money laundering charges filed against him in Malaysia in connection with the ongoing investigation of a Malaysian strategic development company. He had previously pleaded not guilty to three charges of criminal breach of trust and one charge of abuse of power. The money laundering charges relate to approximately $10 million that was allegedly deposited into the former Prime Minister’s personal bank account. That is a small portion of the total funds under investigation as misappropriated from the state fund.

The day before, a $250 million super yacht was returned to Malaysia after it was previously seized in Indonesia following claims by the U.S. Department of Justice that is was purchased with funds misappropriated from the company. Back in July 2016, DOJ filed civil forfeiture complaints seeking recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with the alleged “international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from [the company].” In June 2017, DOJ filed additional civil forfeiture complaints to recover another $540 million in assets. The investigation into assets linked to the company continues with DOJ alleging that more than $3.5 billion in total funds were misappropriated from the company from 2009 through 2015.

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