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Jho Low trusts ask to file late claims in forfeiture lawsuits
[LOS ANGELES] Trusts that hold hundreds of millions of dollars in assets the US claims Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho acquired with money siphoned out of a state investment fund are asking a judge to let them file late claims in the Justice Department's forfeiture lawsuits.
The trusts filed their requests late Monday in federal court in Los Angeles where the Justice Department filed more than a dozen cases to recover more than a US$1 billion in real estate and other assets the government claims were bought by Low, known as Jho Low, and his accomplices with money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
The bid to set aside the court-ordered deadline to file claims comes weeks after courts in New Zealand and the Cayman Islands allowed new trustees to represent the interests of the trusts. Family members of Low, including his father and brother, previously tried to intervene in the litigation as beneficiaries of the trusts because the Swiss-based trustees had declined to do so.
"The government seeks to win this case on procedural technicality rather than on the merits of its claims," lawyers brought on by the new trustees said.
The Low assets at issue include a stake in New York's Park Lane Hotel, a US$107 million interest in EMI Music Publishing, a US$35 million Bombardier Jet and a US$30 million penthouse at Time Warner Center in New York. The US has asked for default judgments against some of the assets because no valid claims had been filed in time.
Low, who is known for partying with Hollywood celebrities Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, is also friends with Riza Aziz, a stepson of Malaysia's prime minister and a producer of "The Wolf of Wall Street", which the US alleges was also funded with stolen money.
Low has said he provided consulting to 1MDB that didn't break any laws, while the fund and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have both denied wrongdoing.
The case is USA v Any Rights to Profits, Royalties and Distribution Proceeds Owned by or Owed to JW Nile (BVI) Ltd, 16-cv-05364, US District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).