“These cases involve billions of dollars that should have been used to help the people of Malaysia, but instead was used by a small number of individuals to fuel their astonishing greed,” the acting United States attorney, Sandra R. Brown, said in a statement.
Mr. Najib, who is identified in the 251-page complaint only as Malaysian Official 1, has denied any wrongdoing. He has boasted of golfing with President Trump, but any hope he had that Mr. Trump’s election might curb the American investigation appears to have been dashed.
Mr. Najib’s attorney general, Mohamed Apandi Ali, issued a statement on Friday noting that investigations by Mr. Najib’s government had found no evidence that money was misappropriated.
Mr. Najib’s press secretary, Tengku Sariffuddin, suggested the United States’ action was politically motivated. Malaysia is “concerned by the unnecessary and gratuitous naming of certain matters and individuals that are only relevant to domestic political manipulation and interference,” he said. “This suggests a motivation that goes beyond the objective of seizing assets.”
The Malaysian government created the fund in 2008 ostensibly to promote economic development. But it borrowed heavily, and much of the money was used in questionable investment schemes.
A central player in establishing the fund was Jho Low, a friend of Mr. Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz.
The latest complaint seeks to recover more than $400 million from Mr. Low, including his $250 million yacht, Equanimity. Mr. Low’s location is unknown.
Mr. Low used some of the funds to finance a lavish style and befriend celebrities, including hiring them to attend parties, the complaint says.
It seeks the recovery of more than $8 million in diamond jewelry that Mr. Low is said to have given to Miranda Kerr, an Australian model, including an 11.72-carat, heart-shaped diamond for Valentine’s Day in 2014. Ms. Kerr could not be reached…