Unlike a criminal prosecution, a civil asset forfeiture case allows the government to seize only assets that it can trace to the underlying crimes. That puts a premium on following the flow of money, and the complaint goes into great detail in describing how cash flowed out of accounts controlled by 1MDB through banks in Switzerland, Singapore and Luxembourg before reaching the United States and Britain to pay for the assets prosecutors want to seize.
Even though most of the transactions took place outside the United States, the money laundering statute can be violated by “an offense against a foreign nation,” including bribery, misappropriation or embezzlement in that country. The only requirement is that the proceeds of those crimes pass into or through the United States for the purpose of concealing the source or ownership of the assets. Buying property and jewelry, or even movie rights, can constitute money laundering, so those assets can be seized if the Justice Department can show the transactions hid the source of the funds.https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/19/business...-1mdb-case.html