October 30, 2019

DOJ concludes its largest civil forfeiture action

On October 30, 2019, the United States Department of Justice announced that it had settled civil forfeiture cases against assets acquired by Low Taek Jho (commonly known as Jho Low) and members of his family with funds alleged to have been taken illegally from Malaysia’s national economic development fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).  The complaints allege that Low, Malaysian and Emirati officials, and others conspired to launder over $4.5 billion misappropriated from 1MDB between 2009 and 2015.  

Pursuant to the settlement, Low, his family members, and a Cayman Islands entity serving as trustee for the assets will forfeit $700 million worth of assets in the US, the UK, and Switzerland, including real estate in Beverly Hills, New York and London, a luxury hotel in California, and tens of millions of dollars in business investments.  Low previously forfeited (1) about $140 million in assets in the US related to an investment in a “business entity related to the Park Lane Hotel in New York,” and (2) a “super-yacht” valued at over $120 million.  The DOJ stated that it had to date recovered or assisted in the recovery of over $1 billion in assets associated with the 1MDB scheme.  Civil forfeiture complaints against assets held by other alleged co-conspirators in the 1MDB conspiracy are still pending.

In a separate criminal action, Low was indicted in October 2018 in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York on charges of conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  He remains at large.