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White House: DoJ's 1MDB probe 'apolitical'
Published on: Wednesday, September 13, 2017

PETALING JAYA: The White House has refused to comment on the United States Department of Justice's probe into the purchase of assets with funds allegedly embezzled from Malaysian government-owned investment fund, 1MDB.

At a briefing by White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders ahead of President Donald Trump's meeting with Prime Minister Najib Razak, the media had asked for comment on the DoJ's corruption investigation.

"Look, we're not going to comment on an ongoing investigation being led by the DoJ, and that investigation is apolitical and certainly independent of anything taking place tomorrow," she said, referring to the meeting.

She had earlier spoken of the 60-year partnership between the two countries built on common economic and security interests.

"The President looks forward to discussing a wide variety and wide range of regional and security issues with the prime minister and talking about ways that they can strengthen counter-terrorism cooperation, certainly the halt of Islamic State (IS), addressing North Korea and their continued actions, and making sure that we promote maritime security in the South China Sea," she said, when asked about the issues which will take priority during the meeting.

In its latest court filings in California, in June, the DoJ said it was seeking to seize US$540 million (RM2.3 billion) in assets including art works, jewellery, a yacht worth worth US$165 million, and film rights purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.

It followed the civil forfeiture suit by the DoJ in July last year, which sought to recover all the assets including but not limited to the Park Lane hotel in New York, a luxury hotel in Beverly Hills, condominiums in New York, a private jet, expensive works of art, as well as the financing of Martin Scorsese's movie "The Wolf of Wall Street", which starred Leonardo DiCaprio.

Like in the first suit, the papers filed by the DoJ in June had also made mention of the involvement of a top Malaysian government official, whom they named as "Malaysian Official No 1" or "MO1".

The total value of the assets sought by the DoJ stands at US$1.8 billion (RM7.7 billion).

The DoJ has charged that from 2009 through 2015, more than US$4.5 billion (RM19 billion) belonging to 1MDB had been diverted by high-level officials of the fund and their associates.

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