Relatives of controversial Malaysian businessman Jho Low will be opposing the seizure of assets worth NZ$230 million at the High Court in Auckland, New Zealand, on Friday morning.
This is with regard to the seizure of assets by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
These relative are said to be the beneficiaries of a number of New Zealand trusts. They claimed they directly owned assets caught up in the probe of 1MDB, reported NZ Herald today.
In the civil action filed by the DOJ last year, it had claimed that these assets were purchased with money allegedly stolen from troubled Malaysian state fund 1MDB.
Low is one of the three individuals named in the suit as having received proceeds of the alleged misappropriation of funds, though he has denied wrongdoing.
NZ Herald said the New Zealand connection to this DOJ lawsuit only came to light several weeks ago when Low’s relatives complained in US courts that the trustees were not challenging the seizure orders.
“Filings from their lawyers said they wished to ask the New Zealand High Court to appoint someone who was willing to take on the DOJ.
“The US filings say some current trustees were concerned that failing to oppose their replacement raised the possibility they might fall foul of US laws criminalising money-laundering,” it reported today.
Meanwhile, the relatives’ filing in New Zealand, to be heard this Friday, claimed that a number of New Zealand trusts were direct owners of assets including a Bombardier private jet, a hotel in Beverly Hills and a NZ$55 million Los Angeles mansion.
The New Zealand trusts also include New York real estate such as two Manhattan apartments, including a NZ$43 million penthouse in the Time Warner Centre formerly owned by celebrity couple Beyonce and Jay-Z, said NZ Herald.
These assets are worth more than NZ$230 million in total, according to the DOJ.
NZ Herald also reported that these New Zealand trusts were established and directed by Auckland law firm Cone Marshall staff, based on their findings from the New Zealand Companies Office filings.
However, Cone Marshall principal Geoffrey Cone declined to comment on this case, except to note that his firm acted on behalf of a Swiss-based trust group and that he had no direct contact with beneficiaries.
“This is a matter concerning the Rothschild Group and Rothschild Trust New Zealand for which we provide local director and office services,” he said.
Acting for Rothschild, barrister Pravir Tesiram said he had nothing to say about Friday’s hearing or on the 1MDB case.
“I can’t comment on that. And, as a matter of practice, we don’t comment on client matters anyway,” he said.
NZ Herald said their questions sent to Rothschild’s in Zurich were also met with “no comment”.
“This is because we are unable to comment on ongoing legal proceedings,” a spokesperson said.
Low’s relatives could not be reached for comment by NZ Herald.
Source : @ Malaysiakini