UPDATED 9.35AM | Fugitive businessperson Low Taek Jho and his family have reached a deal with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) which, if approved by the court, would resolve all of the US government’s civil, criminal, and administrative asset forfeiture actions relating to 1MDB.
In court filing seeking a consent judgment on the settlement stipulation with the district court for the central district of California, dated Oct 30, the Low family agreed to forgo their claims to a wide range of assets sought by the DOJ.
The Low family comprises Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, his father Low Hock Peng (photo, below), mother Goh Gaik Ewe, sister Low May Lin and brother Low Taek Szen.
The court filing states that the deal was arrived at in order “to reach a global, comprehensive agreement that forever resolves in their entirety” competing interests over the assets.
However, the filing states the deal was not “an admission of guilt, fault, liability and/or any form of wrongdoing” by the claimants named, including Low and his family.
The deal reportedly covered over US$700 million (approximately RM3 billion at the current exchange rate) of funds purported to have been misappropriated from the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.
Among the assets, part of the civil forfeiture suit filed by the DOJ in 2016 and 2017, include the US$35 million Bombardier Global 5000 currently at a hangar in Singapore.
Together with prior forfeiture cases, the US DOJ said it had recovered more than US$1 billion in assets associated with 1MDB money laundering and bribery scheme.
"This represents the largest recovery to date under the Department’s Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and the largest civil forfeiture ever concluded by the Justice Department," it said.
However, the filing also stated that the settlement only covers all matters pertaining to 1MDB-linked assets and does not constitute a waiver or release of the Lows from criminal claims made by the US government.
Under the stipulation, further, the US government will release US$15 million (RM62.67 million) which is solely to be used to pay the Low family’s outstanding related legal fees and costs.
'No admission of guilt'
In a statement sent via Sydney-based public relations firm Well Haslem Mayhew, Jho Low said the landmark global deal “fully and forever resolves in their entirety each of the US government's civil, criminal, and administrative actions or proceedings” relating to his assets at issue at the California courts.
"The historic agreement builds on a series of successful prior agreements negotiated with the US Department of Justice and is the result of good faith discussions between the parties.
"Importantly, the agreement does not constitute an admission of guilt, liability or any form of wrongdoing by me or the asset owners,” he said.
“We believe all parties consider this resolution, which is subject to final court approval, to be a successful and satisfactory result.”
A subsequent statement sent by his lawyer, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie who is representing Jho Low in the asset-forfeiture cases in California, said the settlement would help preserve the “tremendous value of the assets involved”.
“It is one of the largest civil forfeiture settlements in US history and represents the voluntary return of each and every asset claimed by DOJ, thus resolving this litigation in its entirety without admission of wrongdoing or fault by any party.”