The U.S. says it has returned $300 million to Malaysia that was stolen from the country’s state-owned investment fund in part of an elaborate corruption scheme.
The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday the money came from assets forfeited by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low. A U.S. federal judge handed down a series of judgements last year ordering Low and his family to forfeit more than $700 million in assets located in the United States, Britain and Switzerland.
Low has been accused of siphoning money from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund and using it to buy high-priced items. These include luxury homes, art and jewelry, a boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, California, and numerous business investments, including the Hollywood feature film “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
The U.S. Justice Department says it now has recovered more than $600 million in funds stolen from 1MDB, which was created by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to promote economic development. U.S. prosecutors say Najib and his associates looted at least $4.5 billion from the fund between 2009 and 2015.
The accusations against Najib led to the stunning 2018 defeat of his ruling coalition, which had been in power since Malaysia’s independence in 1957. Najib also is facing numerous criminal charges in connection with his role in the scandal.