Jho Low fights to claim back family mansion seized in 1MDB case

The authorities are seeking to seize this mansion in Penang, belonging to Jho Low’s mother, as part of a RM680 million civil forfeiture action.

SINGAPORE: Fugitive financier Jho Low is fighting the seizure of his mother’s mansion, saying his family has lived in the property since before 1MDB existed.

Low said the purchase and construction of his family home in Penang predated the state fund, as his mother, Goh Gaik Ewe, holds a certificate of occupation dated July 2000.

A spokesman for Low, through his US lawyers, provided the occupancy certificate.

Malaysian authorities are seeking to seize the mansion as part of a RM680 million civil forfeiture action.

The assets include handbags, cars and cash, which the government alleges were bought using funds siphoned from 1MDB, which was set up in 2009.

A local court said today that the government may invite anyone to submit claims of ownership on the list of seized items, according to Ragunath Kesavan, who represents Low’s mother.

The seizure of the family property was part of the government’s “personal vendetta” against him that has risked his family’s safety, Low said in an open letter today.

The move shows that he would be unable to get a fair trial in Malaysia, he added.

He has been painted by US prosecutors as the mastermind behind the scandal surrounding 1MDB, which saw US$4.5 billion allegedly misappropriated from the fund.

Low, who remains at large, dropped his claims to a stake in the Park Lane Hotel in New York City last year, paving the way for the property to be sold and the funds returned to Malaysia by the US Justice Department.

This week, lawyers for Low asked a US judge to let them take the first steps toward selling two luxury condominiums in Manhattan, which are part of US forfeiture lawsuits linked to 1MDB.

Who will keep the proceeds remains unresolved as Low continues to fight the suits.