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Multi-billion dollar money laundering case hits NZ courts as Low relatives fight US DOJ

Thursday 19th January 2017

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Family members of Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho, also known as Jho Low, who has been linked to a multi-billion dollar money laundering scheme, will tomorrow oppose the seizure of assets worth $230 million which the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) alleges to be the proceeds of crime.

Justice Kit Toogood will hear the request in Auckland's High Court on Friday. The New Zealand Herald has reported that the relatives are beneficiaries of New Zealand trusts which are said to own assets caught up in the scandal, and have complained the trustees are not challenging DOJ seizure orders. 

Four of Low's relatives have applied to have real estate and other assets transferred to a new trustee. The DOJ is trying to recover more than $1.43 billion which federal officials have said was stolen from Malaysian wealth fund 1MDB in a complex money laundering scheme, intended to enrich officials close to prime minister Najib Razak. Low has previously denied any wrongdoing. 

Private banker Yak Yew Chee has been convicted of forging documents and failing to disclose suspicious transactions in relation to the scandal. His lawyer said he was “motivated by a desire to please” Jho Low, his most important customer at the Swiss private bank where he worked, the Financial Times reported in November.

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