Najib press sec suggests 'ulterior motive' behind latest US 1MDB seizures

PETALING JAYA (The Star/ANN) - Malayisan Prime Minister irked as US Department of Justice siezes more assets in 1MDB scandal. 

The press secretary to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has suggested that the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has a motivation that goes beyond seizing assets.

Press secretary Datuk Seri Tengku Sarifuddin Tengku Ahmad was referring to DoJ's move to seize another US$540 million (RM2.3bil) in assets allegedly "stolen" from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

In a statement, Tengku Sarifuddin expressed concern by the "unnecessary and gratuitous" naming of certain matters and individuals that are only relevant to "domestic political manipulation and interference."

He also expressed worry that DoJ has again failed to seek cooperation from the Malaysian Government or 1MDB.

"This suggests a motivation that goes beyond the objective of seizing assets," he said.

Tengku Sarifuddin said there have been numerous and extensive investigations by Malaysian authorities into 1MDB that concluded no crime was found.

"1MDB is still the subject of an investigation by the Royal Malaysia Police. If there is evidence of wrongdoing, Malaysia will not hesitate to take action," he said.

"Until then, unproven allegations should not be taken as facts," said Tengku Sarifuddin.

He quoted DoJ's own press release, which states that: "A civil forfeiture complaint is merely an allegation that money or property was involved in or represents the proceeds of a crime. These allegations are not proven until a court awards judgment in favor of the US."

"The judicial process is not served by headline seeking," said Tengku Sarifuddin.

He said that Malaysia stands firm in its support of transparency and good governance.

"That includes ensuring that accusations have a basis in fact, rather than smears briefed by political opponents," he said.

"We are confident that justice will take its course and Malaysia will continue to cooperate with all willing international agencies.

"As the Prime Minister has always maintained, if any wrongdoing is proven, the law will be enforced without exception," he said.

The DoJ on Thursday moved to seize another US$540 million (RM2.3bil) of assets allegedly belonging to 1MDB.

This time last year, US prosecutors filed civil asset-forfeiture suits against more than US$1 billion (RM4.27bil) worth of artworks, real estate and other assets owned by several individuals.


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