Date
28 March 2017
A hoarding advertises Malaysia state fund 1MDB. The fund is facing multiple investigations into alleged money laundering, embezzlement and other wrongdoing. Photo: Reuters
A hoarding advertises Malaysia state fund 1MDB. The fund is facing multiple investigations into alleged money laundering, embezzlement and other wrongdoing. Photo: Reuters

Hong Kong freezes bank accounts amid Malaysia fund probe

Several Hong Kong bank accounts have been frozen amid a global investigation into a troubled Malaysian state fund.

Individuals who have had their funds locked are under investigation by authorities outside of Malaysia, such as in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Bloomberg is reporting that the probe relates to 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB) which defaulted on its debt last month and is part of multiple inquiries stretching from Switzerland to the US.

It centers around allegations of money laundering and embezzlement which 1MDB denied.

Last week, Malaysia’s central bank fined 1MDB and announced it was ending its investigation.

It’s not clear which Hong Kong authorities ordered the freeze or if the banks acted on their own.

In September, the Financial Times reported that Hong Kong police were investigating some deposits related to 1MDB after a complaint.

Malaysia said those claims were baseless and politically motivated, the newspaper reported.

Hong Kong’s anti-corruption agency and the police said they don’t comment on individual cases.

Authorities in Singapore said in February they had frozen “a large number” of accounts in connection with possible money laundering related to the 1MDB probe.

The Southeast Asian nation has charged two men after investigations into their dealings with the fund and related entities.

Prosecutors there describe the probe as its “most complex cross-border investigation.”

Authorities in other countries such as Switzerland are also examining claims that 1MDB was used to funnel money to politically connected individuals.

A Malaysian parliamentary committee had identified at least US$4.2 billion of irregular transactions by the fund, according to Bloomberg.

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