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Matt Levine

Don’t Steal the Bribe Money

Also voting rights, polite activism, pine cones and lotteries.

Yesterday U.S. federal prosecutors brought charges of bribery and money laundering in connection with 1Malaysia Development Berhad, an investment development fund affiliated with the Malaysian government. The 1MDB story is wild — there’s a good book about it — but the short version is (allegedly!):

There is a lot of subtlety and complication in the mechanics of how to pull off a scheme like this — the modern world has auditors and gatekeepers and watchdogs, and you have to present a facade of legitimacy to a lot of people because you can’t bribe everyone — but the basic idea is pretty simple. If you pay the prime minister of a country hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes, he might let you steal billions of dollars from the country.