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US lawsuits reveal Jho Low used father, brother to divert 1MDB-linked funds

Penang-born tycoon Jho Low had purchased several assets with funds allegedly siphoned from state-investor 1MDB using bank accounts owned by his father Larry Low and brother Low Teck Szen, according to the lawsuits filed by the US Department of Justice (DOJ).

The court documents stated that Jho Low had on several occasions used their accounts to transfer money for purchase of the assets.

The money for the purchases was originally transferred from the Good Star account to the Abu Dhabi Malaysia Kuwait Investment Corporation (AKDMIC) BSI account.

In the first recorded transaction on June 28, 2011, the documents stated that US$55 million was wire-transferred from the Good Star account to the ADKMIC BSI account.

Later the same day, about US$54.75 million was wire-transferred from the ADKMIC BSI account to an account at BSI Bank held in the name of Low Hock Peng or Larry Low.

Approximately US$30 million from the amount was then wire- transferred from the account to an account in the name of Selune Ltd at Rothschild Bank AG in Switzerland.

“(Jho) Low represented to BSI Bank in Singapore that he was the beneficial owner of Selune Ltd,” the court documents stated.

According to the documents, while the signed notice to sell or lease the condominium units identified Larry as its occupant, an unsigned notice dated May 15, 2011, stated that Jho Low is actually the ultimate beneficial owner.

The court documents quoted a realtor involved in the sale of the Time Warner penthouse and Time Warner storage unit who said that Jho Low was the intended occupant of the apartment and his father never even viewed the apartment before the purchase.

“In materials that (Jho) Low submitted to entities with whom he sought to do business, including materials described in Paragraphs 432-434 below, Low represented that his family was a significant source of his wealth.

“By passing money through his father’s account for a brief period of time, Low created the appearance that funds in his personal account, which were used to acquire an interest in the Park Lane Partnership, came from his father rather than from Dragon Market, Granton, and Tanore,” the court documents stated.

Laundered more than US$200m

DOJ also stated that Jho Low had laundered more than US$200 million in misappropriated funds traceable to the 2013 bond sale into an account in the US belonging to the law firm DLA Piper.

“Low and his brother Low Taek Szen (Szen) used those funds to acquire an interest in an entity called ‘Symphony CP (Park Lane) LLC’ - a limited liability partnership between the New York real estate development company Witkoff Group and an investment entity controlled by Low.

“On or about Nov 25, 2013, the Park Lane Partnership, through wholly-owned subsidiaries, acquired 36 Central Park South, New York, New York, 10019, also known as the Park Lane Hotel, for approximately US$654,316,305,” the documents stated.

Other properties linked to the funds include the Oriole Mansion in Beverly Hills, California, purchased for US$38.9 million; as well as the Greene Condominium in New York for US$13.8 million.

Aside from properties, the DOJ suit also detailed how Low had diverted millions of dollars from 1MDB via the Good Star account to acquire an interest in EMI Music Publishing, as well as to fund production of the movie 'Wolf of Wall Street' by Red Granite Pictures.

Red Granite is owned by prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s stepson Riza Aziz.

The DOJ on Wednesday filed civil suits to seize assets in the US that it claimed were purchased using funds siphoned from 1MDB.

It plans to return the proceeds of the sale of these seized assets to Malaysia.

In total, the DOJ seeks to seize 17 assets allegedly obtained using funds illegally diverted from 1MDB "for the personal benefit of the co-conspirators (and) their associates".

Najib had yesterday urged that no assumptions be made in regard to the DOJ’s crackdown on 1MDB.

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