1MDB Reaches White House

The billion-dollar corruption scandal engulfing 1MDB has taken on a political dimension: a star-studded delegation tied to the Malaysian state fund visited Barack Obama at the White House three years ago.

U.S. officials have led a global probe into graft and money-laundering from 1MDB, as well as confiscated more than $1 billion in assets that prosecutors claim were misappropriated from the fund.

New details emerge almost daily, and the most recent ones are embarrassing for the outgoing president: Frank B. White, a prominent Democratic fundraiser, who allegedly took millions in embezzled 1MDB funds, visited Barack Obama in the White House three years ago, «The Wall Street Journal» reported (behind pay-wall).

Malaysian, Hollywood Ties

Along for the ride during that visit were a son and the stepson of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as well as Leonardo DiCaprio and Martin Scorsese, who directed the Hollywood start in «The Wolf of Wall Street».

Najib’s stepson, Riza Aziz, has since been named by U.S. officials investigating the scandal. He co-produced «Wolf» along with DiCaprio, who gave Obama a copy of the film during the visit.

The visit raises serious questions about the U.S.’ relationship to Malaysia, a key ally in Southeast Asia. It also raises the specter that money embezzled from the fund may have paid for lobbying to cement the U.S.-Malaysia relationship.

$79 Million from 1MDB

White received $10 million in illicit money from 1MDB, according to investigators cited by the newspaper. White’s firm, DuSable, is believed to have received a further $69 million in a solar deal thought up by Jho Low, who is named in U.S. documents detailing the alleged fraud.

Investigators believe «Wolf» was financed in part through money pilfered from 1MDB (see Bruno Manser Foundation graphic depicting alleged money flows below).

Financial flows 1MDB 500

There is no evidence that Obama or the White House knew of White’s ties to 1MDB, or how «Wolf» was financed when the star-studded Malaysian delegation visited in 2013. The visit took place around the same time as Singapore’s regulator detected irregularities at several Swiss banks operating in the city-state, and ordered improvements.

Abu Dhabi Connection

At least two of them – Banca della Svizzera Italiana, or BSI, and Falcon Private Bank – failed, and were subsequently shut down by Singapore officials.

The now-reclusive Low and White, who founded DuSable with another Obama fundraiser and rap star Pras Michel, met through friends in the New York party circuit, according to the newspaper.

The ties outlined by the «WSJ» follow a now-familiar pattern of misappropriation at 1MDB: money was allegedly embezzled from the fund, then transferred to White by way of an undisclosed partner in Abu Dhabi.

Solar Deal Cements Ties

The same partner in Abu Dhabi allegedly sent money to White’s firm to buy out its share of a joint solar project conceived by Low.

The Malaysian credited the solar deal with helping Najib cozy up to Obama, according to sources. The White House visit took place shortly before the U.S. President hosted Najib for a round of golf in Hawaii in December 2014.

Low hasn't been spotted since the scandal broke and is believed to be sailing off Hong Kong on a luxury yacht.

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