The family of Low Taek Jho is taking action to stop the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) from seizing assets purchased using funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB.
While the Malaysian businessman, better known as Jho Low, keeps a low profile, his father, brother and two other family members are in the US to make their case as beneficiaries of a family-owned trust that controls the assets, Bloomberg reported today.
According to filings yesterday in the Los Angeles federal court, Low’s family also said that they are forced to file the claims for the assets themselves because the Swiss trustees have refused to act on the forfeiture lawsuits filed by the DoJ in July.
Low’s family claimed that the trustees fear any attempt to fight the civil suits could expose them to “criminal liability for participation in money laundering”.
The DoJ, had on July 20, said that more than US$3.5 billion (RM14.8 billion) was diverted from the 1MDB fund that Prime Minister Najib Razak founded in 2009 shortly after coming to power.
The civil suits in Los Angeles sought to seize US$1 billion of assets purchased with funds allegedly embezzled from 1MDB and transferred into the US using shell companies.
The assets include penthouses, mansions, artwork, a US$35 million Bombardier jet, US$100-million interest in EMI Music Publishing Group, a US$200-million stake in the Park Lane Hotel in New York and proceeds from the Wolf of Wall Street movie.
The DoJ also alleged offences were committed over a four-year period and involved multiple individuals, including Malaysian officials and their associates, who conspired to fraudulently divert billions of dollars from 1MDB.
It specifically named Riza Aziz, who is Najib’s stepson, Jho Low, and Abu Dhabi government officials Khadem al-Qubaisi and Mohamed Ahmed Badawy Al-Husseiny.
According to Bloomberg, Low has previously denied any wrongdoing.
The 1MDB scandal is currently under investigation in several international jurisdictions – including Singapore, Switzerland, Luxembourg and the US – over alleged corruption and money laundering.
Source : FMT Reporters Online