KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — The United States Department of Justice (DoJ) has reached a settlement to recover more than US$700 million worth of assets acquired by fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, or Jho Low, and his family using funds allegedly misappropriated from Malaysia’s 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
In a statement, DoJ said that the assets are located in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
With the conclusion of this settlement, together with the prior disposition of other related forfeiture cases, the US will have recovered or assisted in the recovery of more than US$1 billion in assets associated with the 1MDB international money laundering and bribery scheme, it said.
The statement said this represents the largest recovery to date under the department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and the largest civil forfeiture ever concluded by the DoJ.
“This settlement agreement forces Low and his family to relinquish hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains that were intended to be used for the benefit of the Malaysian people,” Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division was quoted saying.
Benczkowski underscored that it sends a signal that the US will not be a safe haven for the proceeds of corruption.
In a separate statement, Jho Low confirmed that a settlement has been reached with the US government with regard to the civil forfeiture cases.
According to him, it “fully and forever resolves in their entirety each of the US government’s civil, criminal and administrative actions or proceedings relating to the defendant assets at issue in the Central District of California”.
Jho Low, however, maintains that the agreement does not constitute an admission of guilt, liability or any form of wrongdoing by him or the asset owners.
In the DoJ statement, US Attorney Nicola T. Hanna of the Central District of California pointed out that a staggering amount of money embezzled from 1MDB at the expense of the people of Malaysia was laundered through the purchase of big-ticket assets in the US and other nations.