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The Key Players in the 1MDB Scandal: From Malaysian Officials to International Banks

Learn the role of former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and other high-level officials in 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Introduction to the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) Scandal

In the previous blog of this series, we introduced the 1MDB scandal, a major financial scandal that took place in Malaysia from 2009 to 2018. The scandal involved the misappropriation of billions of dollars from a state-owned development company, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), by high-level officials and organizations.

The Key Players in the 1MDB Scandal

At the center of the 1MDB scandal is former Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was arrested and charged with corruption in connection with the scandal in 2018. Najib was found guilty and sentenced to prison in 2020.Najib served as Prime Minister of Malaysia from 2009 to 2018, during which time the scandal took place. He has been accused of using his position of power to enrich himself and his family through the misappropriation of 1MDB funds.In addition to Najib, several other high-level officials in Malaysia have been implicated in this. These include:
  • Shahrol Halmi, the former CEO of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), has been accused of collaborating with Najib to misappropriate 1MDB funds
  • Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman and close associate of Najib, is accused of playing a central role in the misappropriation of 1MDB funds and has been charged in the United States in connection with the scandal
  • Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah, the former Secretary General of the Treasury in Malaysia, was sentenced to prison in 2021 for his role in this segment.

The Role of International Banks and Financial Institutions

In addition to these individuals, several banks and financial institutions have also been implicated in the this. These include:
  • Goldman Sachs, which underwrote bonds issued by 1MDB, and
  • Swiss banks UBS and BSI, have been accused of facilitating the transfer of misappropriated 1MDB funds.

Ongoing Investigation and Legal Proceedings

The 1MDB scandal continues to be the subject of ongoing investigations and legal proceedings around the world, with authorities in multiple countries working to trace the misappropriated funds and bring those responsible to justice.


I hope this gives you a good overview of the key players involved in the 1MDB scandal. Stay tuned for the next instalment of this series, in which we’ll explore the impact of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal on Malaysia and the global community.
Philip Meagher
2 min read

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