LOS ANGELES: US prosecutors and representatives of fugitive Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho want to sell a US$39 million (RM162 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 Friday in the Federal Court in Los Angeles.
Low, better known as Jho Low, is the alleged mastermind behind a multibillion-dollar theft from the 1Malaysia Development Berhad 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 jewellery 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.