“There is currently no action against 1MDB. Only against properties thought to have been procured using money belonging to 1MDB,” said Thomas C Goldstein, Advocate Appellate, US Supreme Court said when asked about the civil forfeiture action against 1MDB.
Tom Goldstein was answering question raised during his talk on “Criminal Litigation in the United States of America” at the UiTM Faculty of Law today.
He said that based on the US Constitution, no one should be deprived of their assets without due process of the law, and all due processes of the law must have a hearing concluded before assets can be forfeited.
“The DoJ, based on the complaint, is just tracing the money and think it may be linked to 1MDB. Right now, there is no suggestion of any criminal target,” he added.
Tom Goldstein is one of the US’s most experienced Supreme Court practitioners and his representations span virtually all of the US Federal Law.
As arguing counsel in the Court, Tom has prevailed in cases involving arbitration, bankruptcy, civil procedure, disability law, employment discrimination, the Fourth Amendment, free speech, habeas corpus, immigration, labour, securities, and trademarks.
When asked to whom would the DoJ return the seized money to, Tom explained that the issue has put the DoJ in limbo as the 1MDB has said that the money is not theirs, whereas the case is based on money taken from 1MDB, made by complainants that do not represent 1MDB.
“The DoJ has recently to put on hold civil forfeiture lawsuits against assets acquired (by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low), because pursuing these may have “an adverse effect” on its ability to conduct the criminal investigation. What the DoJ is doing is it is trying to prevent the money from dissipating by starting a criminal action,” Tom explained. “But right now there is very little activity pertaining to the case and no one has been named as criminal targets.”
Asked if this (that 1MDB says the money is not theirs) is the reason it has taken the DoJ so long to actually initiate something, he answered with a simple, “Yes.”
“A huge amount of money made its way into the US, and the DoJ is interested to know where is the source of this money. It is not a criminal case and an escalation into one will only make life more difficult for them as there has been no precedent. No one has been named in the civil forfeiture suit. If a criminal case were to be developed then it would be a classical criminal case and the burden of proof falls on the DoJ that it has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that crime has been committed,” Tom added.
In addition to practicing law, Tom has taught Supreme Court Litigation at Harvard Law School since 2004, and previously taught the same subject at Stanford Law School for nearly a decade.
Tom is also the co-founder of SCOTUSblog – a website devoted to comprehensive coverage of the Court – which is the only weblog ever to receive the Peabody Award.