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Prosecutors seek sale of two New York condos linked to Malaysian fugitive

Prosecutors seek sale of two New York condos linked to Malaysian fugitive
FILE PHOTO: A construction worker walks past a 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) billboard at the Tun Razak Exchange development in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia February 3, 2016. REUTERS/Olivia Harris/File Photo -
Olivia Harris(Reuters)
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KUALALUMPUR (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors are seeking to sell two luxury condominiums in New York City linked to fugitive financier Low Taek Jho, court documents showed, the latest effort to recover money allegedly stolen from Malaysia’s state fund 1MDB.

Low, known as Jho Low, has been charged in Malaysia and the United States for his role in the suspected theft of about $4.5 billion (£3.6 billion) from state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Low has denied wrongdoing and his whereabouts is unknown.

Since 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed forfeiture lawsuits on about $1.7 billion in assets allegedly bought with stolen 1MDB funds, including a private jet, luxury real estate and jewellery.

The United States this month began returning to Malaysia some $200 million recovered from the sale of seized assets.

On Wednesday, U.S. prosecutors and the holding companies for two New York apartments asked a California court to lift a stay on forfeiture proceedings so that the properties can be sold, court filings showed.

The properties are a $31 million penthouse in the Time Warner Center allegedly bought by Low in 2011, and a $14 million condominium in a trendy Manhattan neighbourhood bought in 2014.

Low’s spokesman said his client was “aware of two further successfully-negotiated agreements with the U.S. government.”

“This continued ongoing collaboration is crucial in order to protect both the value of the assets and the parties’ legal rights,” the spokesman said in a statement.

U.S. prosecutors this month sought permission to sell a $39-million Los Angeles mansion that was also allegedly bought with 1MDB proceeds.

Authorities in at least six countries are investigating suspected money laundering and graft linked to 1MDB, set up in 2009 by the then Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak.

Najib, who lost power in a general election last year, is facing more than 40 criminal charges related to losses at 1MDB and other government entities. He has consistently denied wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Rozanna Latiff; editing by Darren Schuettler)

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