Alleged assets bought using stolen funds

Straits Times
17th June 2017

These are some of the alleged assets bought using stolen funds from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), as well as new pieces of information, detailed in the third filing by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in its 251-page civil lawsuit.

“This money financed the lavish lifestyles of the alleged co-conspirators at the expense and detriment of the Malaysian people,” US Acting Assistant Attorney-General Kenneth Blanco said in a statement on Thursday.

The DOJ wants to seize the items as part of its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative.

•The items include a rare 22-carat pink diamond set in a necklace costing US$27.3 million (S$38 million) that was given to the wife of “Malaysian Official 1” by businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, who has said he was an unofficial adviser to 1MDB in its early days. A Malaysian minister has said “Malaysian Official 1” refers to Prime Minister Najib Razak.

•Mr Low spent at least US$9.9 million on jewellery for Australian model Miranda Kerr, as well as for his own mother.

• Mr Low has a Malaysian passport and a passport for the West Indies island of St Kitts and Nevis.

•The DOJ wants to seize Mr Low’s luxury yacht Equanimity, valued at over US$260 million. It can hold 26 guests and 33 crew members, and has a helicopter pad.

• Mr Low gave actor Leonardo DiCaprio a US$9 million artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat and a US$3.2 million Picasso painting as gifts. The actor’s spokesman said he has begun proceedings to transfer ownership of the Picasso painting to the US government, Reuters reported.

•The DOJ wants to seize rights to the films Dumb And Dumber and Daddy’s Home, produced by Red Granite Pictures, which was founded by Datuk Seri Najib’s stepson Riza Aziz.

•The DOJ alleges that Mr Low amassed more than US$1 billion in real estate using funds diverted from 1MDB. Three of these homes were sold to Mr Riza for a profit.

•The DOJ revealed how US$850 million out of US$1.225 billion in loans that 1MDB took from Deutsche Bank were allegedly siphoned off.

•The US agency said 1MDB’s subsidiary Brazen Sky claimed to have US$2.318 billion worth of “fund units” in Bridge Global Absolute Return Fund. The DOJ showed how the scheme was allegedly carried out, and said these so-called fund units are “relatively worthless”.

In two previous lawsuits, the DOJ had sought to seize, among others:

•Mr Low’s Bombardier jet.

•Artwork by Van Gogh and Claude Monet owned by him.

•Royalties from the 2013 film, The Wolf Of Wall Street, whose production was financed by Red Granite. Starring DiCaprio, the movie was about Wall Street corruption and greed.

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