Saudi royal oil group at heart of 1MDB case Officials from the US Department of Justice allege that $20m of the total was sent to the unnamed PetroSaudi prince and then again on to an unnamed top Malaysian official, whose description corresponds to that of Najib Razak, the country's prime minister. PetroSaudi has denied any wrongdoing and rejected any claims of involvement in misappropriation of funds from 1MDB. It says it is not aware of any investigation into its own conduct, but will co-operate with any official requests for assistance. Mr Najib has also denied any wrongdoing in connection with 1MDB, whose advisory board he chaired. The US court case, launched last week to recover money allegedly looted from 1MDB, provided the most extensive detail so far on the alleged transactions, including those involving the 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture. The US action is one of several probes spanning continents into claims of multibillion dollar corruption in 1MDB's international dealings. PetroSaudi is neither a defendant in the US case nor accused of any crimes. PetroSaudi was founded in 2005 as a private oil company by Prince Turki bin Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz — a son of the late King Abdullah — and his business partner Tarek Obaid, a former banker. The company grew from drilling and oilfield management into trading, opening offices in London's Mayfair district that have pictures of Saudi royalty and are decked with national flags. The company also attracted high profile individuals from western business as advisers, including Rick Haythornthwaite, chairman of Centrica and MasterCard, who provided advice on oil exploration. Tony Blair Associates, the consultancy set up by the former UK prime minister, has said it did a few months of advisory work for PetroSaudi almost six years ago, on business in Asia unconnected with Malaysia. PetroSaudi's website currently lists projects in Ghana, Indonesia, Venezuela and Tunisia. The 1MDB-PetroSaudi joint venture first attracted scrutiny last year after Xavier Justo, a former PetroSaudi executive, leaked a trove of corporate email correspondence that was covered extensively on the Sarawak Report investigative blog. Mr Justo is now serving a three-year sentence in a Thai jail after pleading guilty in August 2015 to blackmail in relation to the documents. At the heart of the 1MDB-PetroSaudi relationship is a 2009 agreement for the Malaysian fund to invest $1bn in a joint venture in exchange for the Saudi company bringing in mineral extraction concessions in Turkmenistan and Argentina allegedly valued at $2.7bn, according to the US complaint. Some 1MDB officials and others then allegedly arranged for the fund's share of the money to be fraudulently transferred to a Swiss bank account controlled by a young Malaysian businessman and impresario named Jho Low. The DoJ court filing claims Mr Low laundered more than $400m into the US, using at least $106.7m to acquire a stake in EMI Music Publishing Group North America Holdings Inc, the world's third-largest music publishing company. Mr Low has not responded to a request for comment submitted through Jynwel Capital, his family's Hong Kong-based company. He has previously denied any wrongdoing. The DoJ case also focuses on $24.5m allegedly sent in two tranches in February and June 2011 from the account controlled by Mr Low to a Riyadh bank account in the name of a man described in the complaint as a Saudi prince who co-founded PetroSaudi. All but $4.5m of these funds were then allegedly transferred again within days to a person dubbed "Malaysian Official 1", whose biography and responsibilities outlined in the DoJ case match those of Malaysia's prime minister. Mr Najib has come under opposition pressure to resign since it emerged last year that he received $681m into his personal bank account in 2013 — money the country's attorney-general has said was a gift from the Saudi royal family. PetroSaudi declined to confirm that the royal co-founder referred to in the US legal complaint was Prince Turki, whom the company has said ceased to be a shareholder in 2013. PetroSaudi maintains all the funds and transfers related to the joint venture with 1MDB — which ended in 2012 — have been properly accounted for. It says it would not be appropriate to comment further, because of the ongoing US proceedings. Prince Turki could not be reached for comment. A Malaysian government spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.