KUALA LUMPUR - The US Justice Department is conducting a criminal probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and has asked for a stay on its civil lawsuits in connection with US$1.7 billion (S$2.3 billion) in assets allegedly bought with money stolen from the scandal-hit state fund.
A total of US$4.5 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, according to dozens of civil lawsuits filed by the US Justice Department in the past two years.
1MDB did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
The department wants to delay the civil proceedings, saying that any disclosures would have an "adverse effect" on the government's ability to conduct its criminal probe, according to the latest court filing lodged at the Central District Court in California on Thursday.
The criminal investigation was started before the civil lawsuits, the department said. It said the investigation was "global in scope", with crimes committed over several years in numerous countries.
In a declaration included in the filing, a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent said that disclosures were "likely to reveal potential targets and subjects of the investigation".