The U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday it has returned to Malaysia $300 million in funds stolen from the Southeast Asian country's investment development fund in a case also involving high-end real estate and a luxury boutique hotel in Beverly Hills.
Combined with other funds that the DOJ previously returned to Malaysia in May, the United States has returned or assisted the country in recovering more than $600 million misappropriated from the 1MDB investment fund, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office, which said recovery efforts are continuing.
In 2019, a federal judge in Los Angeles entered judgments forfeiting more than $700 million in assets acquired by Malaysian financier Low Taek Jho — commonly known as Jho Low — and his family in the United States, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.
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Assets include high-end real estate in Beverly Hills, New York and London, a luxury boutique hotel in Beverly Hills, and tens of millions of dollars in business investments that Low allegedly made with funds traceable to stolen 1MDB funds.
Low is the alleged ringleader of a $4.5 billion theft from the fund, which was created in 2009 as a government-owned development company. The U.S. has brought 30 forfeiture lawsuits seeking real estate, investments, art and jewelry valued at $1.7 billion that Low and his accomplices bought.
To date, prosecutors have recovered or assisted in the recovery of more than $1 billion in assets associated with the money laundering and bribery scheme, according to the DOJ. It's the largest recovery to date under the DOJ's Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative and the largest civil forfeiture ever
concluded by the department.
"The repatriation of these stolen funds to the citizens of Malaysia is the result of the tireless efforts of prosecutors and federal agents to prevent foreign kleptocrats and their associates from using the United States as a playground where they can enjoy the fruits of their pilfered wealth," U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said.
"The amount of money stolen from the people of Malaysia is staggering, and we have been relentless in recovering assets that always should have been used for their benefit," he said.