LOS ANGELES (BLOOMBERG) - US prosecutors and representatives of fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho want to sell a US$39 million (S$53.06 million) mansion in Los Angeles he bought in 2012 with money allegedly stolen from the state-owned 1MDB investment fund.
The empty mansion above the trendy Sunset Strip is falling into further disrepair by the day and is costing US$690,000 a year in taxes, insurance and maintenance, lawyers for the Justice Department and for Low's holding company said in a request to sell the property filed on Friday (May 3) in federal court in Los Angeles.
A spokesman for Low, better known as Jho Low, said his client is aware that the owners of the property have successfully negotiated an agreement with the US government to commence a sale of the property in a "mutual effort to preserve the property’s value while ensuring the owners’ claims are protected and may proceed in a timely fashion".
“We look forward to the continued amicable resolution of these claims. These negotiated agreements stand in stark contrast to the politically motivated actions of certain regimes, which not only illegally seized assets and destroyed their value but have also shown a consistent disregard for the rule of law, democratic values and basic human rights,” the spokesman said.
Low is the alleged mastermind behind a multibillion-dollar theft from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) fund.
Prosecutors say the money was used to buy real estate in California and New York, a US$250 million yacht, works of art by Picasso and Monet, a private jet and millions of dollars' worth of jewelry for his one-time girlfriend, actress Miranda Kerr.
Some of the assets that the US has been trying to seize, including Low's stake in EMI Music Publishing, have been liquidated per court order and the proceeds are being held pending the outcome of the forfeiture lawsuits.
That's the plan for the Los Angeles mansion too; the proceeds will replace the property as the defendant in the government's forfeiture case.
US authorities are preparing to return about US$200 million of recovered funds to Malaysia, according to people familiar with the matter.
Low, who has denied wrongdoing, is sought by Malaysian and US authorities.