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Singapore court orders return of S$15m in 1MDB-linked funds to Malaysia

[KUALA LUMPUR] A Singapore court ordered the return to Malaysia of about S$15.3 million ($11.1 million),  the first time the city-state has repatriated assets to its neighbor following a globe-spanning probe into transactions linked to scandal-hit state fund 1MDB.

Tan, Rajah and Cheah, a Singapore-based law firm, said in a statement that the monies were recovered in various currencies from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and its former subsidiary, SRC International.

The funds will be transferred to a special 1MDB recovery account in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.

"Efforts to recover other unlawfully misappropriated assets are ongoing," the firm said.

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Singapore is among at least six countries investigating claims that about US$4.5 billion was siphoned off from 1MDB, a fund founded by former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

In 2016, Singapore authorities said they had seized S$240 million in cash and properties as a result of investigations into 1MDB-related fund flows through Singapore.

In May, Singapore and Malaysia agreed to cooperate on returning the funds to the Malaysian government, and the court order cleared the way for the first repatriation of funds from Singapore.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said he wants the return of a US$35 million Bombardier Global 5000 jet parked in Singapore. The plane belongs to financier Low Taek Jho, described by investigators as a key character in the probe. Low has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Singapore said last month it hadn’t received a formal request from Malaysia for the return of the jet.

It has taken action against several banks and bank officials for violating money-laundering controls over transactions related to 1MDB, including the closure of units of BSI Bank and Falcon Bank.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG