KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 14): A California judge has granted a stay of proceedings after agreeing with the US Department of Justice (DoJ)’s assertion that the civil forfeiture suits on assets allegedly purchased using funds misappropriated from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) could jeopardise a criminal probe into the case.
“Based on the government’s presentation, the Court is satisfied that the continuing prosecution of these civil forfeiture cases would adversely affect the prosecution of the related criminal investigation.
“The Court sees no reason to doubt the government’s claim that a criminal investigation is ongoing into the underlying money laundering allegations that form the basis for all of these civil forfeiture cases,” a court document signed by US district judge of the US District Court for the Central District of California Dale S. Fischer, was sighted by theedgemarkets.com.
The judge noted that the DOJ had stated as to how the disclosure of facts in the cases could reveal investigative methods of the investigation, subject witnesses and informants to intimidation or retaliation and raise the potential for evidence destruction.
The document said given the complex nature of the alleged crimes and the sensitive political and diplomatic issues involved, it is apparent revelation of any significant amount of information by the government could endanger the operation of the criminal investigation.
The court has viewed the reason for the delay as well-founded and codified as important by Congress.
The motion for stay, which was requested by the DoJ last month, was granted and will continue until vacated by the court, but the government is to provide status updates to the investigation every 180 days to allow the court to assess as to whether to continue the stay.