Saturday, 9 September 2017

Najib-Trump meeting under the spotlight

Malaysia's embattled premier will seek to reset bilateral relations with America's leader while avoiding any commitments that may irk his financial patrons in Beijing

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, long embroiled in a multi-billion-dollar money laundering scandal now under investigation in at least six countries, hopes to have cause to rejoice after meeting with US President Donald Trump.

On September 12, Najib will be the second Southeast Asian leader to visit Trump’s White House, a highly anticipated meeting that could reset bilateral relations after a diplomatic downturn driven largely by the still unfolding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

The US Department of Justice has filed dozens of civil lawsuits seeking to seize dozens of US-based properties and other assets tied to 1MDB, a state fund Najib created and until recently oversaw. The charges claim Malaysian officials and their associates conspired to fraudulently divert US$1.7 billion from 1MDB to purchase assets in America.

Media reports have widely speculated that Najib is the unnamed “Malaysian Official 1” mentioned in the charge sheet. US investigators believe more than US$3.5 billion was illicitly siphoned from the state fund. The DoJ recently asked to stay its civil proceedings to avoid prejudicing an ongoing US government criminal investigation into the charges.

Read the full story at the Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at