Jho Low's family broaden court bid to prevent the US from seizing US$650 million in assets

Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho.
Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho.PHOTO: THE STAR/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

LOS ANGELES (Bloomberg) - Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho's family is broadening its bid to prevent the U.S. from seizing US$650 million in real estate and business investments the government claims was acquired with funds stolen from his home country.

Four relatives of the businessman better known as Jho Low will seek court orders in the Cayman Islands and New Zealand to replace the trustees who control the assets. The Swiss trustees have declined to contest the U.S. forfeiture action because they are worried about being prosecuted for money laundering if they do, according to the relatives, who include Low's father and brother.

The Low family members, who reside in Malaysia, disclosed their intent to try to replace the trustees while seeking to postpone a hearing set for Dec. 12 in Los Angeles on whether they have the right to intervene in the U.S. cases. The family members say they are the beneficiaries of the trusts that hold the assets, and if they or a replacement trustee aren't allowed to bring a claim, their possessions will go to the U.S. by default.

The U.S. is targeting real estate, investments and art works that were allegedly bought with money siphoned off from 1Malaysia Development Bershad, a state-owned investment and development fund. More than US$3.5 billion of the US$8 billion raised was misappropriated from the fund from 2009 to 2015, according to the U.S.