Low: FBI hasn’t informed MACC of 1MDB witnesses’ safety concern

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 21, 2017.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) did not receive any information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on the witnesses’ safety concern in the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) criminal probe in the US, the government said in a parliamentary reply.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, in a short written reply last week, said the Malaysian anti-graft agency did not receive any information related to FBI special agent Robert Heuchling’s written declaration.

Low was responding to a question by Sivarasa Rasiah (PKR-Subang), asking Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to state whether MACC has opened a new investigation paper in the wake of the written declaration by Heuchling, which was revealed in a case brought to the US court by the country’s Department of Justice (DoJ).

Bloomberg, citing a Los Angeles federal court filing, reported on Sept 6 that the FBI requested not to disclose the identity of its informants in the criminal probe into 1MDB in the US, as many of them expressed concerns of retaliation if they were found to have been in contact with the US government.

By the middle of September, a California court had granted the DoJ’s request to temporarily halt its civil forfeiture lawsuits over assets allegedly bought using funds misappropriated from 1MDB, to avoid jeopardising the ongoing criminal investigation.

The DoJ sought to seize some US$1.7 billion (RM7.07 billion) in assets that it said were bought with misappropriated 1MDB funds. They included a private jet, a hotel and real estate in New York, and a US$107 million interest in EMI Music Publishing bought by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low; Riza Aziz; and Khadem al-Qubaisi, the former managing director of Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co.

Bloomberg reported that the trusts holding the assets on behalf of Low, Riza, al-Qubaisi and their families are contesting the forfeiture actions and opposing the request to put the civil forfeiture cases on hold.

It was also reported that the trusts have asked the US government to supply them with the identities of witnesses, sources of evidence, and thousands of documents that are relevant to the criminal investigation.