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U.S. seeks to recover $300 million more in 1MDB assets held in Britain

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the funds flagship Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, March 1, 2015. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo

(This Sept. 16 story corrects the name of 1MDB in headline and penultimate paragraph)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice is seeking to recover $300 million in additional assets allegedly associated with the multibillion-dollar 1MDB scandal, assets it has traced to an escrow account in the United Kingdom, the agency said on Wednesday.

Malaysian and U.S. authorities estimate $4.5 billion was stolen from 1MDB in an elaborate scheme that spanned the globe and implicated high-level officials in the fund, former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, executives at U.S. bank Goldman Sachs, and others. Najib has denied wrongdoing.

In a complaint filed in the Central District of California on Wednesday, the Justice Department said the $300 million was traceable to a line of credit extended by Venezuela’s state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela S.A. to Saudi’s PetroSaudi Oil Services in connection with an oil drilling venture.

The companies are already embroiled in a legal dispute over the funds which the Malaysian high court has sought to freeze with cooperation from the British authorities.

The Justice Department said it was also seeking four dozen promotional movie posters that Riza Aziz, a Hollywood producer and Razak’s stepson, acquired with more than $4 million in funds traceable to assets embezzled from 1MDB.

Prosecutors dropped money-laundering charges against Aziz in May after reaching a deal in which he agreed to help authorities recover 1MDB-related assets.

Wednesday’s complaint brings the total value of assets the United States has sought to recover in relation to the scandal to $2.1 billion - the largest ever asset recovery action brought by the agency. So far the United States has recovered or assisted Malaysia in recovering nearly $1.1 billion in assets.

Reporting by Michelle Price; Editing by David Gregorio

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