The US Justice Department said it is close to recovering US$1 billion from Jho Low, the fugitive alleged mastermind in the 1MDB global scandal.
The Wall Street Journals said yesterday, the DOJ is closer to a civil-forfeiture settlement with Jho Low in the multi-billion dollar fraud.
The parties are expected to finalise the settlement in a federal court in California in the coming days, said The Journal.
It would likely result in Mr Low forfeiting nearly $1 billion in assets but Jho Low will be free from an admission of guilt or wrongdoing but it will also not resolve a criminal case against him filed in Oct last year and pursued by federal prosecutors in New York.
Jho Low faces charges in the US and Malaysia over his alleged central role in the scandal that rocked Malaysia and contributed to the downfall of ex-PM Najib Razak, the founder of 1MDB.
He remains a fugitive in both the US and Malaysia, hiding in China where he is believed to be according to various media reports and the Malaysian police.
The Journals said Jho Low may also be under Chinese protection elsewhere in the world.
The forfeiture suits aim to get back properties such as van Gogh and Monet paintings and luxury real estate in New York and Los Angeles.
Prosecutors alleged the assets were obtained illegally through stolen funds embezzled from 1MDB.
A close associate of former Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in court in Malaysia during the 1MDB trial described Mr Najib and his wife’s relationships with the fugitive banker at the heart of the scandal, Low Taek Jho, was intimate.
He recounted that Mr Low first became intimate with the Najibs due to his friendship with Shahriz Abdul Aziz, Madam Rosmah’s son (Mr Najib’s stepson).
Shahriz or Riza Aziz, is a Malaysian film producer and the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, a Los Angeles-based film production company.
In May, the US government returned RM233.7 million of 1MDB funds given to Red Granite to Malaysia.
It represents the first instalment of funds recovered from asset seizures related to 1MDB under the DoJ Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative. -/TISG