The mystery of 'Malaysian Official 1' has spurred Malaysians to storm Twitter and Facebook to discuss the enigmatic figure mentioned in the US Department of Justice's (DOJ) lawsuit filed yesterday.
US$731 million was allegedly siphoned from 1MDB into a bank account owned by Malaysian Official 1, according to the lawsuit.
While DOJ has kept mum on the secret identity of 'Malaysian Official 1', social media users have pounced on the clues scattered throughout the lawsuit and quickly turned it into a joke.
Who do you think is #MalaysianOfficial1?— Patrick™ (@patricklsk) July 21, 2016
#MalaysianOfficial1 is Anwar Ibrahim right? Or is it Lim Kit Siang.— Malaysian Official 1 (@1Obefiend) July 21, 2016
DOJ had described the figure as a "high-ranking official in the Malaysian government who also held a position of authority with 1MDB".
Upon its formation, Malaysian Official 1 assumed a position of authority with 1MDB, said DOJ.
It said Malaysian Official 1 had the authority to approve all appointments to, and removal from, 1MDB’s board of directors and 1MDB’s senior management team.
"In addition, any financial commitments by 1MDB, including investments, that were likely to affect a guarantee given by the government of Malaysia for the benefit of 1MDB, or any policy of the Malaysian government, required the approval of Malaysian Official 1,” the court documents state.
The news reports on the unnamed figure prompted some Malaysians to urge Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and his government to track him down.
#MalaysianOfficial1 seems pretty corrupt. Sure hope Najib can help tangkap him/her.— Zoe Randhawa (@zoerandhawa) July 21, 2016
Even the government's 1Malaysia slogan got a popularity boost.
Good job, 1Malaysia branding team! Effective branding, even the US Justice Dept uses #MalaysianOfficial1 instead of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named— Faizal Hamssin (@faizalhamssin) July 21, 2016
1MDB a popular Google search
Meanwhile, the term 1MDB surged to 13 percent of total searches on Google yesterday, when news broke that the DOJ had filed the lawsuit.
Once the US attorney-general's press conference ended past midnight, Malaysia time, the trend continued to increase exponentially up to 100 points at 7.30am.
Similarly, topics and news related to '1MDB' topped regional searches in several states in Malaysia including Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Penang, Selangor as well as in Sabah and Sarawak.
Among the top search queries includes '1mdb news', 'najib razak' and 'sarawak report'.
The DOJ yesterday filed civil suits to seize assets in the United States that it claimed were purchased using funds siphoned from 1MDB. It plans to return the proceeds of the sale of these seized assets to Malaysia.
According to the suits, the largest transaction made to Malaysian Official 1 was a US$681 million deposit made to an AmBank account in March 2013.
The amount allegedly came from a US$3 billion bond 1MDB raised to invest in a joint venture with Aabar, the suits said.
From the bond, US$1.26 billion was diverted into an account belonging to Tanore Finance Corporation, which then pumped in the US$681 million to ‘Malaysian Official 1’.