Malaysia aims to recover nearly $1 billion paid out by former 1MDB unit

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia is pursuing civil action to recover about 4 billion ringgit ($954.65 million) of funds disbursed by a former subsidiary of 1MDB, a now-defunct state fund under investigation for money laundering, the finance minister said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Malaysia's Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng speaks during an interview with Reuters in Putrajaya, Malaysia, July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

It is the latest action by Malaysian authorities seeking to recover billions of dollars allegedly stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Malaysian and U.S. investigators believe about $4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by top officials of the fund and associates between 2009 and 2014.

The 4 billion ringgit was disbursed by 1MDB unit SRC International and used around the world, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

“The government through SRC is in the midst of pursuing civil action toward that purpose and will work with the relevant authorities to track the money,” he said in a statement.

BSI Bank in Switzerland, Bank Julius Baer & Co Ltd in Hong Kong and a Mongolian coal exploration company are among the firms that received the funds from SRC, Lim said.

The 4 billion ringgit disbursed by SRC was borrowed from Malaysia’s retirement fund, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan, and any recovered monies will be returned to the fund, Lim said.

The finance ministry took over SRC from 1MDB in 2012.

Former Prime Minister Najib Razak has been charged with 42 criminal offences related to losses at 1MDB and other state entities. He has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors last week wrapped up their case in the first trial against Najib, in which he is accused of illegally receiving $10 million from SRC.

Najib has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi and Joseph Sipalan; Editing by Kim Coghill and Darren Schuettler