When the US Dept Of Justice gained its court order to suspend various court actions over the assets it has now seized and frozen relating to 1MDB last month, it made clear that this was because it was in the middle of intensifying its criminal investigations.
In doing so federal agents for the first time described their chief targets in the investigation as criminal suspects, including the PM’s advisor Jho Low and the PM’s step-son Riza Aziz along with the ex-Chairman of Aabar, Khadem Al Qubaisi. However, they also made clear that this was by no means conclusive list:
“The FACs [First Amended Complaints] allege that the individuals who were involved in the Criminal Phases include, but are not limited to, Low; Riza Aziz (“Aziz”), a Malaysian national and the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB; and Khadem al-Qubaisi (“Qubaisi”) . Moreover, the FACs allege that Low and several others, including Aziz and Qubaisi, were involved in or facilitated several multi-million dollar transfers that were made as part of the Criminal Phases. Many of these transfers and Low and others’ involvement in them are described in the FACs, underscoring the direct relationship between the 1MBD Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation.” [Declaration of FBI Special Agent Robert Heuchling – filed 9th May 2017]
In other words Jho Low and Riza can expect to face formal criminal charges sooner rather than later.
Given that this submission by the DOJ was accepted by Judge Dale Fischer and the court order granted on September 13th, the day after Najib met with Donald Trump, it lays to rest all the recent spin about the case being dropped, thanks to supposed intervention from the President.
The wording of the joint FBI/DOJ submission also intensifies the heat on Najib himself by pointing the finger ever more directly at him. Just in case anyone in Malaysia still believes that the prime mover and beneficiary of the heist, MO1, refers to someone other than Najib Razak, the statement spells it out even more clearly, because criminal suspect Riza Aziz is described as “the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB” – i.e. Najib and Malaysian Official One (MO1) are without any mistaking one and the same.
Here is an abridgement of the points made in the FBI declaration by Agent Heuchling:
I am a Special Agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”)....Specifically, the FACs allege that, over the course of four phases (collectively the “Criminal Phases”), billions of dollars were stolen from the Malaysian government’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (“1MBD”), a strategic investment company...The 1MDB Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation are related because they involve the same or substantially the same parties, witnesses, facts and circumstances. Specifically, the United States is investigating the individuals, entities, financial and monetary transactions, and investment vehicles involved in the Criminal Phases. As alleged in the FACs, one of the Criminal Phases involved the fraudulent diversion of more than $1 billion in proceeds from 1MDB to a Swiss bank account held in the name of Good Star Ltd...The FACs allege that Taek Jho Low (“Low”), a Malaysian national, controlled the Good Star Account, and used the criminal proceeds diverted from 1MBD and deposited into the Good Star Account to purchase tens of millions of dollars of assets in the United States. During two of the other Criminal Phases, the FACs allege that Low and his associates conspired to divert and misappropriate approximately more than $2.5 billion in proceeds that 1MDB raised through multiple bond offerings in 2012 and 2013. Many of these funds were then used to acquire assets that are the subject of the 1MDB Actions. Similarly, during another Criminal Phase, the FACs allege that 1MDB officials and their associates conspired to misappropriate approximately $850 million in 1MDB funds that were borrowed from a syndicate of banks led by Deutsche Bank. Some of these funds were also used to acquire assets relating to the 1MDB Actions. The FACs allege that the individuals who were involved in the Criminal Phases include, but are not limited to, Low; Riza Aziz (“Aziz”), a Malaysian national and the step-son of the senior Malaysian official who oversaw 1MDB; and Khadem al-Qubaisi (“Qubaisi”) . Moreover, the FACs allege that Low and several others, including Aziz and Qubaisi, were involved in or facilitated several multi-million dollar transfers that were made as part of the Criminal Phases. Many of these transfers and Low and others’ involvement in them are described in the FACs, underscoring the direct relationship between the 1MBD Actions and the ongoing criminal investigation. I believe that allowing discovery or other proceedings to occur in the 1MBD Actions will have an adverse impact on the United States’ ongoing criminal investigation..... the claimant in that case propounded 358 separate document requests seeking broad discovery intothe United States’ investigation. These requests seek “all” documents obtained by the United States during its investigation “[c]oncerning,” among other things, individuals and persons referenced in the forfeiture complaint..transactions cited in the complaint...assets acquired by persons referenced in the complaint .. the criminal acts alleged in the complaint,including the unlawful diversion and misappropriation of 1MBD and other funds; thematerial misrepresentations and omissions discussed in the complaint; the knowledge and intent of those involved in the criminalacts; specific money laundering transactions; the involvement ofany one of more than thirty banks in the monetary transactions described in the complaint; and communications that the United States has had with various individuals, persons and their counselThe claimant’s counsel also requests that the United States produce “[a]ll Documents and Communications concerning” twenty different legal entities...“including but not limited to . . . ‘information supplied  by other law enforcement officers, experts,and other witnesses’” (Request No. 2); between any of the over forty individuals discussed or referenced in the forfeiture complaint along with “[d]ocuments sufficient to identify the name, home address, business(es), e-mail address(es), telephone number(s) and facsimile numbers” of these individuals (Request Nos. 3 and 4); and concerning “all subpoenas, Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (‘MLAT’) requests” or documents and communications obtained by the United States pursuant to any MLAT requests (Request No. 9)....Finally, the requests ..seek, among other things, “all” documents and communications[c]oncerning” the extent to which the United States relied upon “anyother country or principality” as a source of evidence and information; “all” agreements, including cooperation or settlement agreements, the Government entered into with individuals and persons; “all” “witness statements,transcripts, memoranda of interviews,reports, notes or video or audio recordings” “[c]oncerning” the subject matter of the forfeiture complaint; “all [d]ocuments and[c]communications” between the United States and “any other country or principality . . . including Malaysia, Seychelles, Switzerland, Singapore, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, France, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand, the British Virgin Islands, and the United Arab Emirates” or any of these countries’ agents or representatives..All or almost all of these documents are evidence of the conduct underlying the Criminal Phases of the 1MBD Actions.Providing these documents to any of the claimants in the 1MDB Actions could result in their disclosure to other third parties. The disclosure of such information to subjects or targets of the criminal investigation could give these individuals and entities a preview of the United States’ criminal investigation as well as the opportunity to track the status of the criminal investigation. Disclosure of such materials also will potentially identify witnesses who have provided information to the government, including their identity and location ...By obtaining discovery directly from the government or third parties about the government’s investigation, individuals and entities involved in the Criminal Phases could potentially conceal, alter, or destroy evidence, as well as intimidate and/or retaliate against potential witnesses Producing any identifying witness information could result in witness intimidation or jeopardize the safety and security of witnesses – a legitimate concern in this case, given that press reports have publicized potentially retaliatory or threatening acts linked possibly to the 1MDB investigation.
For example:On or about September 1, 2015, the media reported that Khairuddin Abu Hassan, an official in the United Malays National Organization, was arrested by Malaysian authorities after he announced that he intended to travel to New York to provide information about 1MDB to the FBI. Similarly, on or about August 1, 2015, the media reported that three Malaysian law enforcement officials, including a deputy public prosecutor, an official of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and an official from the Attorney General’s Chambers of Malaysia, all of whom were working on a special task force in Malaysia investigating 1MDB, were arrested by Malaysia’s Special Branch, Malaysia’s intelligence service, because of news reports relating to 1MDB published in the United Kingdom. On or about April 8, 2016, Malaysian media reported that Rafizi Ramli, a member of Malaysia’s Parliament, was arrested because he was suspected of disclosing information relating to 1MDB. Just a few days ago, Malaysian local media reported that the driver of former Malaysian attorney-general, Abdul Gani Patail, who opened the initial investigation into 1MDB in that country, was shot in public by two unidentified men. (See “Driver’s Shooting a Warning to Gani Patail from ‘MO1’ Not to Assist in DOJ’s 1MDB Criminal Probe? [Abridgement of Agent Heurchling statement, which was accepted by the Court]
The above cites that the targets of the civil case are the same as in the criminal investigation and they are now trying to get disclosure of information involving 30 banks, 20 jurisdictions and 40 individual people who have assisted in the 1MDB investigation so far.
The FBI and DOJ have made plain that they do not wish to provide such information to tip of their criminal suspects and enable them to intimidate witnesses, so they have frozen the assets relating to the money laundering until they have brought their formal charges. The US Court has accepted their position.