The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to recover $540 million in assets -- including art works, jewelry and film rights -- that it says were purchased with funds misappropriated from Malaysia’s 1MDB wealth fund.
It’s the latest attempt by the U.S. government to seize assets linked to the tainted fund, bringing the total sought by the Justice Department to $1.8 billion.
From 2009 through 2015, more than $4.5 billion belonging to 1Malaysia Development Bhd was diverted by high-level officials of the fund and their associates, according to complaints filed Thursday in the Central District of California.
The items cited in the new lawsuit as subject to seizure include a Park Avenue condominium, diamond jewelry, shares of fitness club operator Fly Wheel Sports Inc., a painting by Pablo Picasso titled 「Nature Morte au Crane de Taureau」 and rights to the 2014 film 「Dumb and Dumber To.」
Picasso’s 』Nature Morte au Crane de Taureau.』Photographer: Shaun Curry/AFP via Getty Images
The government also wants to seize a luxury yacht, the Equanimity, valued at more than $260 million. It holds 26 guests and 33 crew members and features a helicopter pad, gym and cinema. And there’s a stake in the Viceroy Hotel Group valued at $31 million. Both were purchased by Jho Low, a Malaysian financier with ties to the country’s prime minister and a taste for the good life, prosecutors say.
Last year the government sought assets including properties in Hollywood and New York, various art works and rights and royalties for the 2013 film 「The Wolf of Wall Street.」 The Justice Department alleged a three-part scheme orchestrated Low: Phase one involved the launch of the fund in 2009, and the next two phases involved the sale of bonds arranged by Goldman Sachs in 2012 and 2013.