Malaysia police investigating spouse of ex-central bank chief over 1MDB funds

KUALA LUMPUR (REUTERS) – Malaysian police said on Wednesday (March 3) it was investigating the husband of the country’s former central bank head for allegedly receiving funds linked to 1MDB, a state fund at the centre of a massive corruption scandal.

Malaysian and United States authorities have said around US$4.5 billion (S$6 billion) was stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), in a globe-spanning scandal that has implicated the country’s former prime minister, United States investment firm Goldman Sachs, and others.

Mr Tawfiq Ayman, the husband of former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz, is facing a money laundering investigation over the alleged transfer of 1MDB-linked funds into a bank account he owns in Singapore, Malaysian police said on Wednesday.

“Given that the case investigation involves evidence in Malaysia and other countries, the Royal Malaysian Police is taking further action by seeking mutual legal assistance… to obtain statements from abroad,” commercial crime investigations director Zainuddin Yaacob said in a statement.

A representative for Dr Zeti and Mr Tawfiq did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

When asked about the police probe, BNM referred to a statement that it disclosed all information received from foreign financial intelligence units to the relevant domestic law enforcement agencies.

Malaysian financial daily The Edge reported on Saturday that BNM had been alerted in 2015 and 2016 during Dr Zeti’s tenure as governor about suspicious transactions involving a company owned by Mr Tawfiq and the couple’s son.

The funds came from accounts linked to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, The Edge reported, citing official documents it had sighted. Reuters has not independently verified the report.

Low, known ad Jho Low, has consistently denied wrongdoing and is wanted in the US and Malaysia over his alleged central role in the 1MDB theft.

Malaysia said on Wednesday that audit firm Deloitte will pay the government US$80 million to resolve claims related to its auditing of 1MDB’s accounts between 2011 and 2014.

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