U.S. Returns $300 Million Jho Low-Linked Funds to Malaysia

(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. returned to Malaysia another $300 million that was recovered as part of the Justice Department’s forfeiture lawsuits targeting assets that fugitive financier Low Taek Jho and his associates bought with funds allegedly stolen from the country’s 1MDB investment fund.

With the latest repatriation, the U.S. has sent $600 million back to Malaysia as part of the continuing effort to seize and liquidate the assets, including real estate, business investments, art work and jewelry, that Low, commonly known as Jho Low, his family and his cronies acquired with the money they are accused of siphoning from the state fund after it was set up in 2009.

While Low has denied wrongdoing, he and his family last year dropped their defense of the forfeiture lawsuits that have been pending in federal court in Los Angeles, which has allowed the government to seize more than $700 million in assets. Some of the real estate, including luxury condominiums in New York and mansions in Beverly Hills, have been put on the market.

The 1MDB global corruption scandal toppled the previous Malaysian government of Najib Razak, ensnared a Wall Street powerhouse and set off investigations across the globe. In February, a political upheaval led parties that had backed Najib to return to power, placing the local probe and efforts to recover 1MDB funds in question.

New Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has since pledged to keep fighting corruption and thanked the U.S. and Malaysian authorities for the return of the funds. The government will continue working with jurisdictions across the world to bring back more 1MDB-linked assets, he said in a statement on Wednesday.

The U.S. has helped to recover more than $1 billion in assets linked with the 1MDB money laundering and bribery scheme, making it the Justice Department’s largest-ever civil forfeiture, according to a statement Tuesday by the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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