Malaysia's scandal-hit 1MDB sues banks

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) –


Malaysian state fund 1MDB is suing units of Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and Coutts, according to court documents, the latest effort to recover massive losses from the scandal-hit investment vehicle.

Billions of dollars were looted from 1Malaysia Development Berhad in a globe-spanning fraud that involved former prime minister Najib Razak, and spent on everything from real estate to artwork.

The scandal played a large part in Najib's long-ruling coalition losing power in 2018, and authorities have since been trying to claw back money looted from state coffers.

1MDB is suing Deutsche Bank (Malaysia) for $1.11 billion, JPMorgan (Switzerland) for $800 million and a Swiss-based unit of Coutts for $1.03 billion, according to documents filed at Kuala Lumpur High Court on Friday.

The fund is also seeking interest payments from all the banks.

The claims are based on "negligence, breach of contract, conspiracy to defraud/injure, and/or dishonest assistance," according to the documents, which were seen by AFP.

Deutsche Bank said in a statement: "We have not been served any papers, and we are not aware of any basis for a legitimate claim against Deutsche Bank."

JPMorgan and Coutts did not respond to requests to comment.

Malaysia's finance ministry had announced Monday that 1MDB and a former unit of the fund had filed 22 civil suits in a bid to recover assets worth more than 96.6 billion ringgit ($23 billion).

They said the suits were against a series of entities and individuals, but did not identify any of them.

Wall Street titan Goldman Sachs also became embroiled in the 1MDB scandal, after helping to raise billions of dollars for the fund.

The bank reached a $3.9 billion settlement with the Malaysian government last year in exchange for charges being dropped, and also agreed to pay a massive penalty in the US.

Najib was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in jail last year following his first trial linked to the 1MDB scandal. He remains free on bail while he appeals.