An Australian fund management firm currently being shut down by authorities is the latest company caught up in the scandal surrounding state-owned fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd., The Wall Street Journal reports.
Avestra Asset Management, which is currently being liquidated, focused on Malaysian penny stocks and obscure merger finance, according to a copy of an affidavit by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
The company had a key role in managing $2.32 billion for 1MDB, according to a person familiar with the matter and testimony in June by 1MDB's auditor before a Malaysian parliamentary committee, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Malaysian fund has been in the spotlight for months, amid allegations of false auditing, huge debt and, more recently, financial fraud. In July, the WSJ published a report alleging nearly $700 million flowed from the fund to Prime Minister Najib Razak's personal bank account.
Najib has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, claiming the funds were a private donation from Middle Eastern country he has declined to name. Singapore and Switzerland have both suspended bank accounts tied to 1MDB and in the U.S., media reports said the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating as well.
Investigations in Malaysia have been dogged by accusations they were biased toward the government or halted entirely.
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