KUALA LUMPUR: It looks like Low Taek Jho may have pulled off another sweet deal for himself by agreeing to surrender billions of dollars worth of assets he is accused of buying using money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).
Low - who is better known as Jho Low, apparently has everything to gain by reaching an agreement to return the assets to the United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ).
This is because the assets, including the luxurious New York Park Lane Hotel, a private jet in Singapore and the superyacht Equanimity, have all depreciated in value and in fact turned into liabilities.
“That is why he has conveniently started handing them over,” Sarawak Report highlighted in an article.
The portal had warned in September that Low was cutting a deal with US authorities who had named him as among key players in the theft of billions of dollars from 1MDB.
Low had most recently agreed to drop his claims to the Park Lane Hotel in New York, allowing the property to be sold to Abu Dhabi’s state-owned Mubadala Investment Co and other investors.
The hotel is among assets the US prosecutors alleged that Low and his accomplices acquired with money syphoned from 1MDB.
He bought the hotel in 2013 in a joint venture with New York real estate developer Witkoff Group for about US$654 million, acquiring 85 per cent of the property.
Mubadala paid him US$135 million in late 2013 for a stake in the hotel.
Sarawak Report said the hotel’s market value had taken a plunge in recent years. “Prices have dipped and the hotel is in need of refurbishment.
“By officially surrendering his share the wanted fugitive has enabled the DoJ to realise what money is in the asset, but has probably saved himself costs in maintaining it and whatever loans are outstanding.
“It means there is likely to be little in the pot once creditors are repaid and whether that will find its way back to Malaysia also remains unanswered.”
The hotel is among assets Jho Low has surrendered in recent months. The other assets he has given up include his stake in EMI Music Publishing and his Bombardier private jet now grounded in Singapore for well over a year.
Last month, a court in Malaysia allowed the government to auction the Equanimity, the US$250 million superyacht which was seized by Indonesia at the request of the US early this year.
Sarawak Report said both the jet and the yacht were no longer worth the price Low had paid for.
“The plane will not reach at auction what he paid for it and nor will his fancy yacht.
“Equanimity, bought for a staggering quarter of a billion dollars in 2014, has suffered from resting idle in dock and is no longer spanking new,” it said.
Sarawak Report stated that with so many of his assets turned into liabilities, Low had conveniently started handing them over.
It further said Low’s lawyers and PR consultants had made millions for their role in cutting the deals, but there is little chance that any portion from the sales of assets could be returned to Malaysia.
“This stolen 1MDB money apparently will not be reclaimable from these law firms and PR outfits under the law as it now stands, since unlike banks, such outfits are not yet required to check if their clients are paying them with criminal cash,” it said.
Low - who is better known as Jho Low, apparently has everything to gain by reaching an agreement to return the assets to the United States (US) Department of Justice (DoJ). - NSTP FILE PIC
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