Australian supermodel Miranda Kerr handed over more than $8 million in jewelry last week to the US Department of Justice after prosecutors stated that the bling was bought for her by a financier from Malaysia who bought them with stolen government money.
Kerr retrieved the illicitly-obtained jewels from her safe deposit box near her home in Los Angeles. One of the jewels was a $3.8 million, 8.88 carat diamond pendant that was made by the famous New York jewelry designer Lorraine Schwartz.
According to her spokesman, Kerr was in full cooperation with the Department of Justice and agreed to hand over the jewelry to federal agents. He also noted that Kerr will continue to cooperate with federal authorities in any way necessary.
At least $4.5 billion has been stolen from a state fund in Malaysia called 1MDB. It was set up by the Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak. He has denied doing anything illegal but has been facing serious corruption charges for years. Prosecutors have alleged that almost $30 million that was stolen from the fund also was used to buy jewels for Najib’s wife.
Kerr was given the jewelry in 2014 by Jho Low. He is a financier who is embroiled in a corruption scandal that has been roiling the Malaysian government for several years.
The Department of Justice wants to seize at least $1.5 billion in assets from Low, including a huge luxury yacht.
Kerr owns her own line of jewelry and is wisely following the example of Leonardo DiCaprio. He has turned over more than $3 million of artwork to the feds, including a Picasso painting that was given to him by Low.
Rights to Major American Films Also Sought by DOJ
The scandal regarding the Malaysian fund has also led the DOJ to attempt to acquire rights to films that may have been purchased with assets from the wealth fund.
DOJ has been trying to acquire the rights to the comedy Dumb and Dumber To produced by Red Granite Pictures. That company was named by DOJ in a new complaint that states that the money that was used to film the movie can be traced to government corruption.
Some of the other assets DOJ wants to seize include a very rare poster for the movie Metropolis, which was bought by the CEO of Red Granite, Riza Aziz, who is the stepson of the prime minister in Malaysia. The PM has been accused of being the major force behind much of the corruption that has taken place.
These moves by DOJ are some of the latest developments in a complicated Malaysian money laundering scheme that the department claims was designed to enrich top officials in that country.
The Department of Justice alleges that many corrupt 1MDB officials have treated the public fund as a personal bank account. It claims that several conspirators laundered stolen money through a very complex web of financial transactions and shell companies with personal bank accounts around the globe, including the US, Switzerland and Singapore.
Corruption Charges Swirling Around Malaysian Government Officials
In most countries of the world, including the US and Malaysia, there are laws that outlaw corruption. Public corruption under US law defines a variety of white-collar crimes that are all related to a breach of the public trust, and/or abuse of power by public officials. Corruption may occur when the corrupt person or persons receives a bribe to render a service, or attempts to solicit one.
Different countries and states have laws that government public corruption, but US federal corruption laws are more likely when the person is a member of the US government, or if there is a conspiracy to engage in some form of corruption that crosses state lines in the US.
Most states and countries recognize both felony and misdemeanor levels of corruption. Federal corruption charges in the US can also be made worse with state level corruption charges where the actual act or acts took place. Some of the most common types of corruption charges in the US include:
- Bribery: This is the offering of something of value to any public official for any illegal purpose. Corruption may be initiated by the corrupt person in government, but most corruption charges in the US are related at least partially to bribery. Bribery requires two people to cooperate, so this also may be prosecuted under a charge of conspiracy.
- Graft: Refers to obtaining access to any public funds by any manner or means. Corruption charges can be added onto graft charges, if the person is soliciting access to public funds in the course of his engaging in corrupt acts.
Conspiracy is a category of general crimes where more than one individual is working secretly with the end goal of committing a crime. In both federal state and some international laws, there is no such thing as a criminal conspiracy by oneself. You cannot engage in a conspiracy with yourself to do anything that is noncriminal. Instead, a conspiracy has taken place when a group of people are working together to commit a crime under a state, federal or country statute.
Conspiracy laws in the US have been designed to discourage serious crimes that require more than one person to participate. It is important to understand that a conspiracy does not need to involve a large number of people. Just two people can engage in a serious criminal conspiracy.
Conspiracy laws at the federal level in the United States define this crime as two or more people who are conspiring together to commit an offense against the US. Federal statutes currently recognize two types of conspiracy:
- A conspiracy where the object is a felony.
- A conspiracy where the object is a misdemeanor
The federal prosecutors on the case will determine if the object of the criminal conspiracy is going to be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. It will depend upon the nature of the crime and the effect that the crime had on other parties, among other factors.
A person in the US can be punished for a conspiracy by a term in prison of up to five years, as well as a fine. Conspiracy prosecutions can be complex because prosecutors often negotiate with various members of the conspiracy to get evidence against other parties.