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Malaysian state fund to sue western banks for billions 

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Former PM Najib Razak is also being sued after a criminal trial found him guilty. Photo: Samsul Said/Bloomberg

Former PM Najib Razak is also being sued after a criminal trial found him guilty. Photo: Samsul Said/Bloomberg

Former PM Najib Razak is also being sued after a criminal trial found him guilty. Photo: Samsul Said/Bloomberg

Malaysia’s now-defunct 1MDB state fund is suing units of Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan and Coutts & Co to recover billions in alleged losses from a corruption scandal at the fund, according to court documents. 

1MDB is claiming $1.11bn (€900m) from Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) Bhd, $800m from JP Morgan (Switzerland) Ltd and $1.03bn from a Swiss-based Coutts unit, and interest payments from all of them, according to the lawsuit.

The claims are premised on “negligence, breach of contract, conspiracy to defraud/injure, and/or dishonest assistance”, 1MDB said in the documents, filed at a Kuala Lumpur court on Friday.

The three companies did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the claims in the lawsuit.

Malaysia’s finance ministry said yesterday that 1MDB and a former unit had filed 22 civil suits seeking to recover more than $23bn in assets from entities and people allegedly involved in defrauding the fund and its ex-subsidiary. It did not identify any of the individuals or entities being sued. 

JP Morgan and Coutts declined to comment on the report while a a Deutsche Bank spokesperson said: “We have not been served any papers, and we are not aware of any basis for a legitimate claim against Deutsche Bank.”

The lawsuit seen by Reuters did not detail the banks’ role in 1MDB’s affairs.

Malaysian and US investigators say at least $4.5bn from 1MDB between 2009 and 2014, in a wide-ranging scandal that has implicated high-level officials, banks and financial institutions around the world.

Malaysian authorities have previously said there were billions of dollars more that were unaccounted for.

The lawsuits come after Malaysia recovered nearly $5bn in assets following deals over the past three years with US bank Goldman Sachs, which helped 1MDB raise billions of dollars in funds, audit firm Deloitte and others.

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In 2017, Switzerland’s financial watchdog FINMA said the Swiss subsidiary of JP Morgan had committed serious anti-money laundering breaches over business relationships and transactions linked to 1MDB.

JP Morgan said at the time it has since increased training and made improvements in monitoring and surveillance.

Last year, Swiss authorities convicted a former Coutts banker for failing to report suspicious transactions linked to 1MDB.

The Edge, a Malaysian financial newspaper also reported those being sued by 1MDB include former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who founded the fund.

Mr Najib said in a Facebook post yesterday that the claim seemed intended to bankrupt him, and suggested that the lawsuit was politically motivated.

Last year, he was found guilty of corruption and money laundering in a 1MDB-linked case. He denies wrongdoing and is appealing the verdict.


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