The relatives of Malaysian financier Jho Low, who is accused of being at the heart of alleged massive laundering of funds from Malaysia's sovereign investment fund 1MDB, will fight the seizure of assets worth US$230 million (S$326 million) in an Auckland court on Friday (Jan 20), the New Zealand Herald reported on Wednesday.
The assets, including Manhattan penthouses and a private jet, are alleged by the US Department of Justice (DoJ) to be the proceeds of crime.
US court filings said the relatives are beneficiaries of a number of New Zealand trusts that are claimed to directly own a number assets caught up in the 1MDB probe, the NZ Herald reported.
US Attorney-General Loretta Lynch said in July when the DoJ first filed its seizure claims that US$5 billion had been misappropriated from the Malaysian state with payments by 1MDB diverted into private Swiss bank accounts and then laundered into artwork, Hollywood films and real estate.
Low is one of three individuals named in the DoJ action as receiving the proceeds of the alleged fraud. The others are a Hollywood producer and step-son of Malaysia's current Prime Minister and a former government official from the United Arab Emirates.
All three have denied wrongdoing.
The New Zealand connection only came to light several weeks ago when relatives of Low complained in US courts that trustees were not challenging the seizure orders, reported NZ Herald.
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 report said.