A case of life imitating art?
The US justice department has begun a process of attempting to seize more than $1bn of assets acquired with money stolen from the Malaysian sovereign economic development fund 1MDB, according to court papers filed yesterday.
This comes after a probe by the FBI - the fund is subject to five international investigations.
It has been alleged that up to $6bn was misappropriated from the fund - and that the money was used to sustain the lavish lifestyles of a number of individuals who are connected to Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak.
US attorney general, Loretta Lynch said stolen money was used to contribute to the funding of Martin Scorsese's Oscar nominated The Wold of Wall Street, and to buy artwork worth more than $200m, including works by Van Gogh and Monet.
It is also alleged that the cash was used to purchase real estate in Europe and the US, and to fund gambling trips to Las Vegas.
Ms Lynch told reporters in Washington that, "Unfortunately and tragically, a number of corrupt officials treated this public trust as a personal bank account."
She added that the civil action and asset seizures related to the case represent the "largest single action ever brought" by the US's kleptocracy asset initiative.
A Monet painting, a private jet, and royalties from The Wolf of Wall Street are among the assets being targeted by the department.
“With this action, we are seeking to forfeit and recover funds that were intended to grow the Malaysian economy and support the Malaysian people. Instead, they were stolen, laundered through American financial institutions and used to enrich a few officials and their associates. Corrupt officials around the world should make no mistake that we will be relentless in our efforts to deny them the proceeds of their crimes." Ms Lynch added.
The 1MDB fund denies wrongdoing and is co-operating with these investigations.