US files suit to seize London penthouse, office bought with 1MDB cash, says WSJ

THE US government has moved to seize a London penthouse it alleges was bought with funds from 1Malaysia Development Bhd, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, used £77 million (RM416 million) from 1MDB to finance the purchase of the penthouse, office building and another flat on Stratton Street, the United States said.

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) filed a suit on June 7 to seize the properties, which it said, are acquired with funds from 1MDB.

The DoJ also filed a suit in July 2016 seeking to seize about US$1 billion (RM4.4 billion) of assets – such as artworks and real estate in New York and Los Angeles – bought with funds allegedly stolen from 1MDB, making it the largest case under its kleptocracy asset recovery initiative (KARI).

Low, said the DoJ, is a central figure in an alleged plot to siphon billions of dollars from the fund. He is allegedly a confidant of Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is allegedly “Malaysian Official 1” mentioned in the DoJ suit filed in July.

The office in Mayfair, which was bought for £42 million in 2014, was the headquarters for Myla, a British lingerie company which Low owned, the department said.  

“Low acquired an interest in the Stratton penthouse and the Stratton flat using 1MDB proceeds,” the DoJ said.

“Low used funds traceable to misappropriated 1MDB proceeds to purchase the Stratton office,” WSJ quoted the filings.

In April, 1MDB settled its arbitration with Abu Dhabi fund International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) in London.

“Under the terms of the settlement, IPIC will receive US$602.7 million by July 31, 2017 and a further amount of US$602.7 million by December 31, 2017,” IPIC said.

Both parties will continue talks until December 2020 over US$3.5 billion linked to the two bonds, and no legal action will be pursued.

It was also reported last month that former head of the state-owned Emirati oil company IPIC is pulling out all the stops to find out the people responsible for the leaks tying him to the 1MDB scandal.
Khadem Al Qubaisi, who was IPIC managing director, was abruptly let go in April last year after 1MDB’s losses became apparent to Abu Dhabi in 2015.

Under Khadem, IPIC had guaranteed US$3.5 billion of 1MDB’s bonds in 2012. IPIC has since managed to reach a settlement with 1MDB after its claims went into arbitration in London.

But for Khadem, it all started in 2015 when he went to great lengths to find the two men who tried to blackmail him into paying US$60 million for them to keep quiet about information on the 1MDB case.

However, according to Intelligence Online’s sources, the two men, Khadem’s Franco-Algerian former personal secretary Racem H and Khadem’s former associate, Franco-Israeli national Albert L had filed complaints in Paris and Algiers accusing him of trying to silence them. – June 13, 2017.

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