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AFP probe links to vexed Malaysian fund

AAP logoAAP 10/01/2017 Sarah McPhee

Federal police are investigating whether Australian companies are caught up in the scandal surrounding Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

The state-owned investment fund, founded by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak in 2009, is the subject of money laundering investigations in at least six other countries, including Switzerland, Singapore and the United States.

Civil lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice in July 2015 allege more than $US3.5 billion ($A4.7 billion) was misappropriated from 1MBD, with the government seeking to recover more than $US1 billion in assets allegedly siphoned off by people close to the Malaysian leader.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said it was the largest single kleptocracy action in the country's history.

Assets already frozen - with the help of Swiss and Singaporean authorities - include luxury properties in New York, Beverly Hills and London, a private jet, paintings by Vincent van Gogh and Claude Monet, and proceeds from Hollywood film The Wolf of Wall Street.

The Malaysian prime minister, who also chaired 1MDB's advisory board, has denied wrongdoing, and said the country would co-operate with international investigations. 1MDB has also denied wrongdoing.

An Australian Federal Police spokeswoman confirmed the 1MDB investigation to AAP on Tuesday but did not name which international law enforcement agency, or agencies, the force is working with.

She said the AFP is responsible for investigating alleged breaches of proceeds-of-crime laws by Australian-registered companies, citizens and residents.

"The AFP is aware of allegations relating to companies associated with 1MDB, and have assisted our foreign law enforcement partners with their investigations in relation to a number of these matters," the spokeswoman said.

"As the AFP continues to evaluate these allegations it would not be appropriate to provide any further comment at this time."

She did not comment on allegations that financial gains from the scandal may have been stashed in Australia.

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