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Minister: Don't rush to judgment on 1MDB crackdown in US
Published:  Jul 21, 2016 12:39 AM
Updated: Jul 22, 2016 5:01 AM

In a startling development to the protracted 1MDB saga, the US Department of Justice filed civil suits to seize US$1 billion in assets associated with an alleged international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from the fund.

However, Communication and Multimedia Minister Salleh Said Keruak said the action was based on complaints filed by a third party, and those linked to former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who are not the aggrieved parties.

"The aggrieved party in this case would be 1MDB and the US said it is taking action based on money stolen or illegally transferred from 1MDB.

"Therefore, if any assets or money are confiscated in the US, then under that money would be returned to 1MDB.

"The problem here, though, is that 1MDB itself has said it has not lost any money or no money has been stolen from it," he added in a blog post.

Salleh also said the DOJ announcement created confusion due to the incompleteness of details.

"What many appear to have missed is that this is a civil action and not criminal action although this does not mean that later it cannot also extend to criminal action if enough evidence of criminality is procured," he added.

The minister said if the US had chosen criminal action then the burden of proof would be on the prosecutor to prove guilt.

"In this case they have chosen civil action and after freezing or confiscating the assets of the accused, the accused will need to prove that the assets were legally and not illegally acquired.

"This shifts the burden of proof from the prosecutor to the accused," he added.

Minister: US can be hasty at times

Delving into history, Salleh said the US could sometimes be too hasty in its decisions or actions, and later what it claims is proven to be incorrect.

He cited the case of the Iraq invasion in 2003 based on the believe that Saddam Hussein’s regime possessed WMDs or weapons of mass destruction.

"The fact that yesterday’s Department of Justice press conference spoke about suspicions that need to be further investigated shows that the matter is not yet conclusive and we are yet to know what will be the final outcome.

"So we need to wait and see what happens although we do know at this stage it has no direct impact on 1MDB," he added.

In an earlier posting, Salleh urged the people not to jump to conclusions with regard to claims about 1MDB made in the United States.

"No one should rush to judgement before allegations are proven in court," he added.

Salleh said 1MDB has been the victim of an "unprecedented politically-motivated attack" which sought to unseat Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

"So many of the allegations, like Dr Mahathir’s lie that RM42 billion had gone missing, were later proved false - in this case by the bi-partisan Public Accounts Committee," he added.

He said that comprehensive investigations, as well as Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, had confirmed that the donation Najib received came from the Saudi royal family.

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