NEW YORK • Relatives of a Malaysian financier at the centre of the 1MDB fund scandal have been dealt a setback in their efforts to claim assets seized by the United States government.
A US federal judge this week denied a motion that would have given them time to try their luck in overseas courts.
Four relatives of Mr Low Taek Jho - better known as Jho Low - filed a motion to delay the Dec 12 hearing to Jan 23 so they could go to courts in New Zealand and the Cayman Islands to try and get real estate and other assets transferred to a new trustee.
In a one-sentence ruling, US District Judge Dale Fischer denied both the motion to postpone the hearing and a separate request to extend the deadline for filing a claim.
No reason was given in the filing, dated Wednesday.
Federal prosecutors had opposed the delay, noting in a filing on Wednesday that almost five months had passed since the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a series of lawsuits alleging more than US$3.5 billion (S$5 billion) was misappropriated from the 1Malaysia Development Bhd fund.
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak established 1MDB in 2009 and chaired its advisory board until May.
Mr Low is among the people named in the DOJ civil lawsuits aimed at seizing US$1 billion in assets allegedly siphoned off from 1MDB and diverted into luxury real estate in New York, Beverly Hills and London, valuable paintings and a private jet.
The whereabouts of Mr Low are unknown. Prime Minister Najib was in January cleared by Malaysia's Attorney-General of any wrongdoing in a case related to some US$700 million found in his personal accounts said to have been siphoned from 1MDB.