US Attorney General Jeff Sessions says 1MDB officials allegedly laundered more than US$4.5bn in funds through a complex web of opaque transactions and fraudulent shell companies.
Each one of us — whether we are prosecutors, judges, or legislators — have a responsibility to pursue the common good for the people we serve. And while each of us has limited jurisdiction, we must recognise that the consequences of our actions can be felt around the world.
You can be sure of this: the United States will do our part. And we urge every government to do their part, as well.
Over the next few minutes, I’d like to discuss a few of the ways the United States is cooperating with our law enforcement partners across the globe and achieving successes that benefit all of us.
First of all, we have seized or restrained $3.5bn worth of corruption proceeds involved in money laundering offences.
Since 2004, the United States has returned millions in corruption proceeds to compensate victims.
That includes approximately $119m to the people of Italy, $115m to the people of Kazakhstan, more than $20m to the people of Peru, and millions more to the people of Nicaragua, South Korea, and Taiwan.
That recovery has only been possible because of cooperation with our foreign law enforcement partners.
You may be familiar with some of these cases. For example, nearly half of the $3.5bn in corruption proceeds we have restrained is related to just one enforcement action.
That action was related to a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB. 1MDB was created by the Malaysian government to promote long-term economic development for the benefit of the Malaysian people.
But allegedly corrupt officials and their associates reportedly used the funds for a lavish spending spree: $200m for real estate in Southern California and New York. $130m in artwork. $100m in an American music label. Not to mention a $265m yacht.
In total, 1MDB officials allegedly laundered more than $4.5bn in funds through a complex web of opaque transactions and fraudulent shell companies with bank accounts in countries ranging from Switzerland and Singapore to Luxembourg and the United States. This is kleptocracy at its worst.
Today, the US Department of Justice is working to provide justice to the victims of this alleged scheme.
As a prosecutor for 14 years, I know firsthand that the best evidence is often simple things like bank records, airplane records, and telephone records.
If they’re not properly shared between nations, then, in many cases, justice cannot be done. It is essential that we continue to improve that kind of sharing.
That’s why we must all do more to expedite mutual legal assistance requests. These requests ensure that prosecutors have the evidence that they need to bring criminals to justice.
This in an excerpt from remarks delivered at the Global Forum on Asset Recovery hosted by the United States and the United Kingdom in Washington on 4 December 2017. The full text of Sessions’ address can be found here.