The United States investigator conducting criminal investigation into 1MDB-linked funds is encountering problems as several possible witnesses are too scared to speak out, US media network Bloomberg reports.
Some people in "certain foreign countries" already assisting the criminal probe are concerned for their safety, while others say it is too dangerous to cooperate, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said in a Federal Court filing in Los Angeles yesterday.
The report said that the FBI has requested to keep the names of its informants secret from the alleged masterminds of the 1MDB conspiracy.
Individuals who were otherwise willing to provide information said they were worried about putting “the safety and security of both themselves and their families at serious risk," the FBI said in its filing.
Last month, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) applied to put on hold its suit to seize the profits from movie producer Red Granite, as well as 12 other 1MDB-linked suits, so as not to jeopardise criminal investigations into the matter.
The targeted assets were acquired by Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low; Riza Aziz, stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak; and Khadem al-Qubaisi, the former managing director of Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC).
Malaysian news reports cited
Parties involved in the 1MDB-related suits have urged the court to continue with the proceedings.
FBI also cited Malaysian news reports, where local officials arrested due to their role in probing the 1MDB embezzlement and the driver of former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail, who was shot at his house in Ampang Perdana late last month.
Following the 1MDB scandal exposed two years ago, Malaysian authorities, including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), and police began their investigations into the alleged misappropriation of state-owned funds.
On July 27, 2015, Gani's tenure was abruptly ended, reportedly due to a health problem, and he was and replaced by Mohamed Apandi Ali.
The US investigation into 1MDB is part of a global effort to track how much of the US$6 billion (RM25.51 billion at current rates) that 1MDB raised for development projects was embezzled or involved in money laundering.
Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg are among the other countries also investigating the roles played by banks and individuals in the 1MDB scandal.
In those cases, the DOJ alleged that a US$1.29 million heart-shaped diamond and a US$3.8 million diamond pendant Low gave in 2014 to his then-girlfriend, actress Miranda Kerr, were bought with stolen money.
Low also allegedly gave a US$3.2 million Picasso painting to actor Leonardo DiCaprio, who played the lead in "The Wolf of Wall Street," a movie the US says was financed Riza Aziz using misappropriated 1MDB funds.